20,000 people may have been exposed to measles at religious gathering in Kentucky, CDC says


About 20,000 people who attended a large religious gathering in Kentucky last month may have been exposed to measles, and under-vaccinated attendees should quarantine and monitor for symptoms for 21 days, the Centers for United States Disease Control and Prevention in a Health Alert Network advisory.

The CDC alert was sent to clinicians and public health officials after the Kentucky Department of Public Health identified a confirmed case of measles in an unvaccinated person on Feb. 24. The individual had a history of recent international travel and attended a large religious gathering on February 17 and 18 at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, as previously reported by CNN.

According to the CDC, about 20,000 people attended the rally from Kentucky, other US states and other countries during those days, and an unknown number may have been exposed.

“If you attended the University of Asbury rally on February 17 or 18 and are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated against measles, you must self-quarantine for 21 days after your last exposure and you monitor for measles symptoms so you don’t spread measles to others. “, the CDC said in the health notice.

CDC officials also recommend that unvaccinated people who attended the rally speak to their health care provider about getting vaccinated after they finish quarantine, as two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97% effective for prevent measles.

For people who think they have measles or have been exposed to someone infected with the virus, the CDC recommends isolating themselves from others and calling to notify a health care facility before arriving to get tested.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that begins with symptoms typical of many respiratory illnesses followed by a characteristic rash that usually appears on the face and spreads downward three to five days after symptoms begin.

The CDC recommends that clinicians be on alert for measles cases in anyone with compatible symptoms who attended the Kentucky event on Feb. 17 or 18, had contact with an attendee, or recently traveled to the abroad, especially in countries with ongoing epidemics.

“With declining measles vaccination rates around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, measles outbreaks are occurring in all World Health Organization (WHO) regions,” the CDC said in the health notice.

In the United States, measles cases rose from 49 in 2021 to 121 in 2022, all among children who were not fully vaccinated, including outbreaks in Minnesota and Ohio.

CDC officials say the advisory in response to the Kentucky case emphasizes “the importance of early recognition, diagnosis and appropriate treatment.”

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