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Indiana confirms first case of measles in 5 years

First Indiana measles case since 2019 in Lake County

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Department of Health on Friday afternoon confirmed a case of measles in Lake County, marking the state’s first measles case in five years.

The Indiana Department of Health says the risk to the public is low, but it continues to investigate the case with other public health officials. No other information will be released to protect patient privacy.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory virus that spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is rare in the U.S. due to the availability of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, but visitors from other countries or U.S. citizens traveling abroad can become infected.

On Friday night, the Chicago Department of Public Health said the Lake County resident sought treatment in Chicago while contagious.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, Indiana’s health commissioner, said in a release, “Measles is easily spread and can be serious, especially for young children. About 1 in 5 unvaccinated people in the United States who get measles is hospitalized, and 90% of unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles will become sick. This case is a good reminder that you are at risk if you haven’t been vaccinated.”

The Indiana Department of Health says more than 93% of people who receive a single dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine will develop immunity to measles, and more than 97% will be protected after receiving a second dose. Two doses of the vaccine are needed to be fully protected. People born before 1957 are presumed to be immune to measles.

Three vaccination clinics on Wednesday will offer free MMR vaccination for people older than 1 year. The clinics are in northern Indiana. Each clinic is from 3-7 p.m. Central time.

  • Gary Health Department, 1145 W. Fifth Ave., Gary.
  • East Chicago Health Department. 100 W. Chicago Ave., East Chicago.
  • Jean Shepard Community Center. 3031 J. F. Mahoney Drive, Hammond.

Recognizing the symptoms

Measles begins with a fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes usually one to two weeks after exposure to the virus, but it can occur up to 21 days. The fever increases, sometimes as high as 105 degrees. Tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin.

Two to four days after symptoms begin, a rash starts on the hairline and face. It spreads down the back and trunk and extends to the arms, hands, legs, and feet. After about five days, the rash fades in the same order in which it appeared.

What you can do

If you are experience measles symptoms, stay home and call your healthcare provider right away before going to a doctor’s office. If you are ill with measles, stay home and away from others, especially unvaccinated infants, people with diseases affecting their immune systems and pregnant women.

Visit the Indiana Department of Health website or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about measles and MMR vaccination.

News 8’s Gregg Montgomery contributed to this report.