Colorado has reported its first case of measles in a state resident in five years. The infected individual is an adolescent who had recently traveled abroad to multiple countries and returned to Denver International Airport on December 13. This marks the first confirmed case of measles in a Colorado resident since January 2019. The state health department has not disclosed whether the adolescent had been vaccinated against measles.
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads through the air and can linger for up to two hours. Symptoms typically manifest one to two weeks after exposure, including fever, cough, and a runny nose. A characteristic rash develops around two days after the initial symptoms, usually starting at the hairline and spreading across the body. The virus is particularly dangerous for individuals who have not received the measles vaccine.
Health officials are urging individuals who were at Denver International Airport between 4:30-8 p.m. on December 13 or at Children’s Hospital Colorado’s emergency room on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora between 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. on Monday to be cautious, especially if they are unvaccinated. The hospital plans to notify patients and families who were in similar areas during the specified times. People experiencing symptoms of measles are advised to stay home to prevent exposing others to the highly contagious disease.
Measles can lead to severe complications, including seizures, brain damage, ear infections, pneumonia, and death. Infection can be prevented if individuals receive a measles vaccine within 72 hours of exposure. Colorado has faced challenges in maintaining high vaccination rates for measles, with last year’s data indicating that 86.8% of kindergarteners statewide were vaccinated, the lowest figure since 2017. Achieving herd immunity, which protects the unvaccinated from outbreaks, requires a measles vaccination rate of 95% or above, highlighting the importance of vaccination efforts to curb potential outbreaks in the state.