Maryland health department reports fifth measles case in the Baltimore area

A fifth measles case has been confirmed in a person in the Northwest Baltimore region, the Maryland Department of Health reported Friday.

Maryland is among 23 states with measles cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that the 764 cases reported this year through May 3 are the most reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was eliminated in 2000.


Public health officials had said the virus is highly contagious and other cases were possible since the first case was reported April 5. So far, all five cases have been contained in Northwest Baltimore area in ZIP codes 21208, 21209 and 21215.

Officials are encouraging people to ask their health care provider if they have been vaccinated with two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine, which protects the vast majority of people.

Measles has spread to Maryland. Here's what you need to know.

Measles symptoms typically develop 10 days to two weeks after exposure to the virus but can develop in a week or take as long as 21 days. The first symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and red, watery eyes. In a day to four days, a red rash normally appears on the face and spreads across the body. Someone is contagious for four days before the rash appears, until four days after it begins.

Measles can cause serious complications, including pneumonia (a lung infection) or encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

The U.S. cases have been linked to travelers who brought measles back from countries including Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, where there currently are large outbreaks. The cases are proliferating in U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people, including in the Orthodox Jewish community in New York, New Jersey and Michigan, according to the CDC.

Baltimore-area Jewish leaders have urged members of the community to get vaccinated to prevent more cases and have issued guidance. They have also urged caution when traveling to other areas affected by the disease, a warning that came as the Passover holiday began and families may be visiting relatives.

Public health officials cite the ease in which the virus is spread through coughing and sneezing. The virus can remain in the air for two hours.