Health agencies confirm 22 measles cases in Wisconsin, but none now active at Fort McCoy

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MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — State, federal and local agencies have confirmed 22 cases of measles in Wisconsin, including some among Afghan refugees at Fort McCoy, although no known, active cases are there now.
The risk of measles transmission in the surrounding communities is considered to be low at this time, according to the Monroe County Health Department, the state Department of Health Services and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People diagnosed with measles at Fort McCoy have ranged in age from 4 months to 26 years, and 14 (64%) have required treatment at area hospitals, the Monroe County department said.
In order to prevent further spread at Fort McCoy and protect surrounding communities, the Monroe County Health Department and the state DHS are working to support federal agencies that led the vaccination efforts against measles and other communicable diseases to all Afghan evacuees in mid-September.
More than 11,000 measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine doses have been administered at Fort McCoy.
“From the very beginning, we have welcomed Afghan allies to Wisconsin,” said state health Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We will continue to support federal and local partners in their ongoing efforts to contain the spread of measles and ensure those who have been evacuated from their home communities are receiving the medical care they need in order to be healthy and well-protected.
Timberlake described the hardships Afghan evacuees have endured in the past year as “truly unimaginable, and I ask that we all practice compassion, and respect people’s privacy and culture as the resettlement process continues.”
Most Wisconsinites are vaccinated against measles as children, which provides lifetime immunity. However, people who have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a person with measles can spread the virus to others in the community, leading to outbreaks.
Staff or visitors who are unvaccinated and who have been at Fort McCoy between September and October may be at increased risk for measles, the agencies said. Wisconsinites can check their vaccination status in the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.
Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases, urged Wisconsin residents to check their measles vaccination status and talk to their health care providers if they or their children still need vaccinations.
The DHS will update measles cases at 2 p.m. every Thursday on the DHS Outbreaks web page.
Measles is highly contagious and can be spread from person to person through the air. It can remain airborne in indoor spaces for two hours after a sick person leaves. People are infectious four days before rash onset through four days after rash onset.
Measles symptoms include:
• Runny nose
• High fever (may be greater than 104°F)
• Tiredness
• Cough
• Red, watery eyes, or conjunctivitis (“pink eye”)
• A red rash with raised bumps that starts at the hairline and moves to the arms and legs three to five days after symptoms begin.
Through widespread vaccination, measles was officially eliminated from the United States in 2000. However, measles outbreaks still occur in areas of the United States where people are unvaccinated, and in under-vaccinated countries that do not have the ability to widely distribute vaccine and medical resources to all of their residents.

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