Seven diagnosed with measles in Johnson, Miami counties. Aldi, YMCA among risk sites

By Andy Marso, March 16, 2018

A person getting an injection is shown

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment released a list of nine places
in Johnson County, Wyandotte County and Miami County where the public
might have been exposed to measles during an outbreak tied to a
daycare that has sickened at least six so far. Vaccines are the
best way to prevent the contagious viral illness.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday that at least seven people in Johnson County and Miami County have contracted measles and released a list of nine public places where others might have been exposed.

All but one of the seven people are associated with a Johnson County daycare that has been identified as the source of the outbreak. But health officials are now warning the public that those seven may have exposed others to the virus before becoming symptomatic.

“Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing,” said KDHE Chief Health Officer, Dr. Greg Lakin. “It is so contagious that any person who is exposed to it, and is not immune, will likely contract the disease. Measles can be spread to others from four days before to four days after the rash appears.”

The department said people who were at the following places at the following times may have been exposed:

KDHE and Johnson County are recommending that people who were at these locations at these times stay home if they have a fever, except to see a healthcare provider. Before visiting a healthcare provider, they should call ahead so the provider can take measures to protect other patients and staff.

Symptoms of measles typically begin with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes. Three to five days after symptoms begin a rash develops and usually starts on the face at the hairline and spreads down to the neck, trunk, arms and legs. According to KDHE, the risk of contracting measles is extremely low for those who have had the measles in the past or those who have been vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, shot.

At least three of the cases tied to the daycare, which has not been identified, were in children who are under 1 year of age, and therefore too young to be vaccinated. People in that age group are particularly at risk, as are those who can't be vaccinated because of underlying medical conditions.

Lisa Augustine, a spokeswoman for Children's Mercy, said the hospital is working with the Johnson County Health Department to investigate the measles outbreak and treat affected children.

She said there was a risk of exposure in the emergency department of the 53-bed hospital in Overland Park on the days cited by KDHE and Children's Mercy is trying to contact families treated at that time but hasn't been able to reach all of them yet.

"As the only children’s hospital in the metro area, we realize that families of affected children will likely seek treatment here," Augustine said. "Children’s Mercy is doing its utmost to care for these children while taking every action to minimize the risk of transmission to others."

Paula Spreitzer Oxler, associate vice president of communications the YMCA, said members are being notified. All hard surfaces are being disinfected and deep cleaned.

"The health and safety of our Y members, program participants and everyone we serve is a priority," she said in a written statement.

Gabby Delatorre, the assistant manager of El Potro Mexican Cafe in Paola, said Friday evening that no one from KDHE had contacted the restaurant about the measles exposure risk.

Employees at Crazy 8, a children's clothing store, and Payless Discount Foods, also said they had not been informed.

Gerald Kratochvil, communications director with the KDHE, said in a written statement that the department was contacting the businesses on Friday evening.

"In the rush to contact and notify all of the individuals involved and inform the public, KDHE omitted contacting the stores themselves.

Update: Number of measles cases up to 8 in Johnson County. Here's who should worry

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