There has not been one single documented case of measles in Baltimore in a decade, but now the Baltimore Health Department is looking into a measles case affecting a baby of only 12-months-old. Baltimore boasts a vaccination rate of about 99 percent in the public school system, and the baby has not been exposed to anyone who was ill, nor has the child traveled anywhere that might have offered exposure risk.
The child had been vaccinated against measles. According to Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, the measles symptoms actually began not long after the baby was given his MMR vaccine, a shot that contains a mixture of live attenuated viruses of the three diseases it aims to prevent: Measles, mumps and rubella.
Wen said that the Health Department, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the CDC are treating the child's symptoms as though they are from wild-caught measles out of an abundance of caution. Dr. Wen said that the other possibility is that it is from the measles vaccine.
"This is a quickly-evolving situation. BCHD staff, including the Office of Acute Communicable Diseases, epidemiologists, immunization staff, and doctors are working around the clock to gather further information about this case so that we can best protect the public and serve Baltimore."
The patient was first seen at the MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency Department. The symptoms that led doctors to suspect measles were a high fever, runny nose, cough, watery eyes, and a measles-like rash. The child tested positive for the measles virus at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Emergency Department.
According to CDC recommendations, children are to be given their first dose of MMR to protect them from measles, mumps and rubella when they are between 12 and 15-months-old.
In order to determine if the baby somehow contracted wild-type measles or is suffering from measles as a vaccine reaction, special laboratory tests will examine the genotype of the measles virus found within the baby, according to WBAL TV News. The results are expected next week. Health officials believe that if the baby is suffering with measles from the vaccine that it is extremely unlikely to be infectious to others, but they aren't taking any chances.
The baby has been placed in isolation at home and was discharged from the hospital last week. While waiting for the results that will determine if the illness was contracted naturally or from the measles vaccine, the health department is tracing all contact the child had within the potentially infectious period. They are working to also identify patients and staff who might have been exposed to measles in the Baltimore hospitals.
[Featured photo via CDC stock photos]