CHAPEL HILL – The Orange County Health Department is reporting that people in attendance of two Hillsborough Youth Athletic Association baseball games last week may have been exposed to the measles.
The first game was on Friday, May 3, at 6:00 p.m. at the Cedar Grove Park—Field No. 2— in Cedar Grove, NC. The other game was at the Exchange Club Park in Hillsborough, NC on Saturday, May 4, at 4:30 p.m.
A person in attendance of those games “developed symptoms of measles” on Sunday, May 5. This would mean that they may have been contagious while at the games on Friday and Saturday.
Judy Butler, Community Health Services Supervisor for the OCHD, says it can be called a case of the measles. She says it’s still too early in the illness, though, to confirm the case through blood tests.
That’s brings the total number of known cases in Orange County to nine this year and 23 total in the state.
“The majority of the population would be protected by either already having had the illness or receiving the vaccine,” Butler said. “This was an outdoor, short-term setting so it would still be a low-risk exposure. Still we felt like we had to let people know.”
Measles is a viral illness that’s spread through respiratory droplets. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that begins on the head and moves down. Measles can be prevented by the combination MMR— the measles, mumps, and rubella— vaccine.
The earliest a child can be vaccinated is one year of age and then the second dose can be given 30 days later.
Butler says this person had been fully vaccinated and had no reason not to be in public. She’s says this was a rare case given the context.
“According to the Center For Disease Control, two doses of the vaccine given at the appropriate ages—which this person’s was— are greater than 99 percent effective.”
If you attended the games on May 3 or 4, the health department is warning to be alert for symptoms that could occur anytime between May 10 and May 25.
If you develop symptoms, Butler says to stay home and call your medical provider to be tested.
Before this outbreak, 2011 was the last time a measles case was reported in North Carolina and it was just one person.
“I haven’t dealt with measles in any form since 1988. This is a very unusual year for us,” Butler said.
Butler says this outbreak can be traced back to a case coming out of Stokes County in the western part of the state. She says all of the known cases in North Carolina are linked.
“There was someone who traveled to another country where they have measles,” she explained. “That person was not vaccinated. That person returned and then became ill will measles.”
WCHL will keep you updated on any new reports of measles cases in Orange County.