Health department says measles outbreak ‘will hit Utah soon’

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah is surrounded by states hit by the measles outbreak. The Utah Department of Health says it’s not a matter of if the outbreak will be introduced into Utah — it’s a matter of when.

“We have not had any confirmed cases of measles this year,” said Bree Barbeau, Vaccine Preventable Disease Epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health. “But I think we may see a case in Utah soon,” she added.

Utah health officials are closely monitoring the viral infection as the number of confirmed cases continues to spread across the United States.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed 839 cases in 23 different states. The CDC noted that there have been 75 new reported cases of measles from just last week.

Epidemiologists at the Utah Department of Health anticipate measles to spread fast when introduced into the Beehive State because of the large number of confirmed mumps cases.

“We are seeing more cases than we would typically see,” Barbeau replied when ABC4’s Brittany Johnson asked how many mumps cases are confirmed.

In a non-outbreak year, Barbeau says Utah generally sees two to three cases of mumps and so far there are 17 confirmed cases in 2019.

“A lot of those cases are among unvaccinated populations who may be at risk of developing or getting something like measles as well because they are a highly unvaccinated population.”

The CDC has linked the measles outbreak to people traveling abroad, which was then spread to unvaccinated people in the U.S.

“The symptoms typically consist of cough, runny nose, red eyes and then your telltale rash,” said Barbeau. “Complications can happen. Death can happen.”

The CDC recommends the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for both children and adults.

  • If you fall into these groups:
  • International travelers
  • Healthcare personnel 
  • College students

The CDC says you should get another dose of the vaccine.

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