Health Care

Measles confirmed in unvaccinated child attending Miami-Dade public school

A girl receives a vaccine during a free Back to School Vaccination Drive in 2012.
A girl receives a vaccine during a free Back to School Vaccination Drive in 2012. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

A child who attended an unidentified public school in Miami-Dade County was confirmed to have contracted measles, the Florida Department of Health said on Tuesday.

Health officials said the affected child was not vaccinated against the highly contagious disease, which can spread through tiny droplets in the air produced by coughing or sneezing.

Alvaro Mejia-Echeverry, a medical epidemiologist for the health department, said the measles case was discovered on June 16. He said the child was withdrawn from the school on the day she first exhibited symptoms, which include a high fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes and a rash.

Mejia-Echeverry said the health department had reached out to parents of children who came into contact with the affected child, as well as medical professionals at several clinics where the child’s parents had taken her prior to the measles diagnosis. He estimated that about 100 people might have been exposed.

John Schuster, a spokesman for Miami-Dade Public Schools, declined to identify the child or the affected school the child attended. School officials did not say whether the student was attending a year-round school.

State Surgeon General Celeste Philip said in a news release announcing the measles case that the best way to protect people against the disease is to get vaccinated.

“This case serves as a reminder for all residents to check their immunization records or contact their primary care provider’s office to make sure they are up to date on the measles vaccine,” Philip said.

The Miami-Dade measles case is the second reported in Florida this year after a man in Collier County was diagnosed with the disease.

As of May 21, there were 19 people from nine states — Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas — who had contracted the disease, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of people who got measles were not vaccinated against the disease, which is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, according to the CDC.

A previous version of this article misstated the number of measles cases confirmed in Florida this year.