Carroll Students Avoid Measles

100 Cases In State

One Linked To Wrestling Tournament In Westminster

April 24, 1991|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

Carroll County students managed to keep from catching measles so farin the midst of a state outbreak, even though one of the places it spread was a state wrestling tournament in Westminster.

In addition, more than 40 of the 100 cases reported in the state have been linked to a regional tournament at Meade High School in Anne Arundel County on Feb. 22-23, said Edward M. Hirshorn, assistant chief of the Immunization Division of the state Health Department.

A wrestler from Howard County, unaware he had the disease, infected 11 other wrestlers. The state tournament a week later at Western Maryland College was the stage for at least one more transmission of the disease.

But none of the six county residents who came down with the disease caught it from the tournament, said Mary J. Bandorick, supervisor of the generalized communicable diseases program at the Carroll Health Department.

The worst outbreak is in Cecil County with 70 cases, Hirshorn said. Howard County had 21 cases, Anne Arundel County had 14 cases, and Baltimore City's rate has been accelerating, he said.

Although Carroll hasn't been hit hard, Bandorick said sheexpects more cases to turn up until the disease runs its course. Shesaid anyone who isn't immune should get a shot soon.

The last case in Carroll was reported April 2. All six county residents who contracted measles have recovered.

Measles immunizations are available at the Health Department from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays at 540 Washington Road. About 750 Carroll residents have been immunized there so far this spring, she said.

Hirshorn urges immunizations for:

* A first shot for preschoolers over 15 months old.

* Middle school students should get a second immunization. A first immunization is 95 percent effective; a second practically assures immunity.

* Any adult born in 1957 or later who has not been immunized twice or had measles.Older adults probably had measles and are immune.

* Health-care workers -- especially young adults.

* Anyone who received a last immunization during the mid- to late 1960s, when there were some problems with the vaccines.

People can pass on measles as much as two days before a red rash alerts them they have the disease, Hirshorn said. They remain contagious for another four days after the rash appears. The disease, also called rubeola, is one of the most contagious known, he said.

"If you're not immune, and a measles case just passesyou in the hall, you'll get it," Hirshorn said.

Complications caninclude vomiting, ear infections and pneumonia, especially in adultsor very young infants. For all ages, the death rate in the United States is 1 in 500.

Hirshorn said his department has traced this year's outbreak to one patient who may have contracted measles in Philadelphia and passed it to a student at Oakland Mills High in Howard County.

That student, who was on the wrestling team, apparently infected at least 10 others in his school as well as 11 other people who attended the regional wrestling meet at Meade High School.

Bandorick said the ages of the six county residents who contracted measles were 18 through 32. No Western Maryland College or Carroll County public school students caught it, she said.

The first symptoms of the measles are indistinguishable from the common cold or flu, she said.

"That's why nobody can be blamed for this," she said.

Hirshorn said the disease is often transmitted by working adults who tell themselves, "I feel terrible, but I've got to go in -- I can't take time off."

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