Broward County

Worker visiting Broward County tests positive for rubella

A 37-year-old man visiting Broward County from outside the United States tested positive last week for rubella, according to the Florida Department of Health in Broward County.

Cynthia Martinez, director of global corporate communications at Royal Caribbean Cruises, said the man, from the Philippines, was working as an IT contractor out of the company’s Miramar office on Feb. 23.

He wasn’t feeling well at work, so the company suggested he go to an urgent care clinic. He never returned to the office that day, Martinez said.

Last week, the company was informed that the man had tested positive for rubella.

“When we got word that it was rubella,” Martinez said, “we sent a message to all employees that work out of that location.”

The health department is also in the process of notifying anyone who may have been exposed and has spoken with healthcare workers in Broward County.

“We encourage everyone to make sure they have received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination (MMR),” Dr. Paula Thaqi, director of the Florida Department of Health in Broward County, said in a statement. “Those fully immunized have very little risk of developing the disease.”

Martinez said the health department also sent a letter to give to employees at the Miramar office about the the disease.

“They’re being cautious, as are we,” Martinez said.

As of Tuesday, Martinez said no other employees were showing symptoms of the virus.

Rubella, sometimes called German measles, is a contagious disease that usually causes a mild fever and rash. It is spread through the air, by coughing and sneezing. Older children and adults may also have swollen glands, cold symptoms and aching joints.

Most people in the United States are vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella as children. Kids receive two doses, one at 12-15 months and the second at 4-6 years.

Since the vaccine has been developed, the incidence of rubella in the U.S. has decreased by more than 99 percent, according to the Florida Department of Health in Broward County. Between 2004 and 2012, 79 cases were reported in the U.S., but all were “import-associated or from unknown sources,” according to the health department.

The health department is asking anyone with rubella-like symptoms to contact their doctor.

“The Department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts,” Candy Sims, spokeswoman for the health department, said in an email.