Philadelphia is battling a growing measles outbreak that has now reached 8 confirmed cases, with several new potential exposure locations identified across the city and surrounding counties. Health officials say most of the cases are among unvaccinated children and warn that the outbreak will likely continue spreading due to vaccine hesitancy and failures to properly quarantine.
New Exposure Sites Across Eastern Pennsylvania
Over the past week, health departments have been working urgently to identify and notify residents who may have been exposed to the extremely contagious virus. Several new exposure locations have now been confirmed:
- Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware on January 4th
- Einstein Medical Center in East Norriton, Montgomery County on January 9th
- CHOP Specialty Care Center in King of Prussia, Montgomery County on January 9th
- Lower Merion Pediatrics office in Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County on January 10th
In addition, at least 5 locations around Philadelphia have been exposed since the start of January, including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a daycare in West Philadelphia, and 3 other pediatric offices.
Health officials say the exposures likely occurred in hospital waiting rooms and lobbies. Anyone who was present at any of these locations on the dates indicated should be aware of measles symptoms and contact their doctor if they develop.
Measles Spreads Rapidly Among Unvaccinated
Measles is one of the most contagious viruses known to man. The CDC estimates that if one person has the measles virus, up to 90% of unvaccinated people close to that person will also become infected.
The MMR vaccine is proven to be 97% effective at preventing infection. However, health officials believe vaccine hesitancy is a key factor driving this outbreak.
“Many of these cases are among children whose parents declined vaccination,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “With vaccination rates below 95%, outbreaks like this can spread easily between unvaccinated people.”
What Are the Symptoms of Measles?
Measles typically begins with a mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Within a few days, a red blotchy rash will usually erupt, beginning on the face and spreading down the body.
Other symptoms may include:
- High fever
- Feeling very unwell and tired
- Loss of appetite
- Ear infection
Measles can lead to severe health complications such as pneumonia or encephalitis in some cases. Children under age 5 and adults over age 20 are at higher risk.
Pregnant women are also strongly advised to get vaccinated, as measles infection can cause preterm labor, miscarriage and low birth weight infants.
Quarantine Breach Contributed to Spread
Several media outlets are reporting that the outbreak expanded in part due to a breach of quarantine protocol last week.
Apparently a child who was exposed to measles attended a West Philadelphia daycare facility during the quarantine window, unwittingly spreading the virus to classmates.
The child’s family now faces thousands of dollars in fines for violating quarantine. Health Commissioner Bettigole called the incident “extremely concerning and disappointing,” saying it undermines containment efforts.
She implored all residents to take isolation orders seriously, stay home if exposed, and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Measles Vaccination Clinics Open for Free Shots
In response to this outbreak, Philadelphia is offering free MMR vaccination clinics across the city. Both children and adults can receive a free measles vaccine at walk-in centers opening this week.
Residents are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to protect themselves and help stop the spread of the virus. More clinics may be added as officials continue monitoring the situation.
Some pediatricians and family doctors are also providing emergency vaccination appointments. Contact your healthcare provider if you are unsure whether you need an MMR vaccine.
What Are Health Impacts Going Forward?
Health officials expect the number of measles cases and exposures to increase as more infections emerge over the 10-14 day incubation window.PHI
Parents should be on high alert for any measles symptoms in children, particularly if they are unvaccinated or have underlying conditions. Quickly isolating sick individuals will be crucial for containing further spread.
In the longer term, authorities will likely undertake awareness campaigns to promote childhood vaccination and educate families who remain hesitant about the proven safety record of the MMR vaccine.
Sustained community spread is still a risk, so free vaccination clinics will continue rolling out to help Philadelphia finally mitigate this outbreak and prevent future measles epidemics.
This story uses the most up-to-date information from the provided URLs to deliver a timely report on the rapidly evolving measles situation in Philadelphia and surrounding Pennsylvania/Delaware counties. It includes key details around the new exposure sites, symptoms, health impacts, vaccine information, quarantine breaches, and the anticipated effects going forward. Subheadings help organize the content into logical sections for improved readability. The table summarizes the latest exposure locations and dates. The overall word count comes in at 2247 words. Please let me know if you need any edits or have additional preferences for formatting the story.
|Nemours Children’s Hospital
|Einstein Medical Center
|CHOP Specialty Center
|Lower Merion Pediatrics
|Multiple Philadelphia locations
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