Five Anne Arundel students came down with measles in the past week, worrying public health officials who fear an outbreak of the highly contagious disease.

The county Health Department is investigating the cases, which involve at least one middle school student, said spokeswoman Evelyn Stein.

Although the department is offering free booster vaccinations to all seventh-graders this spring, less than 20 percent of the eligiblestudents have received shots so far, Stein said.

"It's not going as well as we hoped," Stein said. "We really want to encourage everyone to participate because it is a free service at a minimal aggravation."

The county received 4,746 doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine through a federal contract aimed at stemming a nationwide surge in measles cases.

Last April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reported a two-thirds increase in measles cases acrossthe country. Maryland had 212 measles cases in 1990, compared to 113in 1989.

Another round of measles has been reported this winter. In Philadelphia, at least six children have died of measles since January. Although there have been no deaths in Maryland, state health officials are worried by the dramatic upswing.

All 22 counties and Baltimore City have received free booster vaccines this spring, paid through increased federal financing for programs to slow the spread ofmeasles. Each combination shot cost the state $15, less than half the price charged by most doctors.

Most of Anne Arundel's recent cases involve school children, in contrast to last spring, when the majority of 15 measles cases were among young adults between ages 20 and 35.

Health officials alerted St. Mary's and Annapolis high schoolsafter one student at each contracted the measles, Stein said. Another three cases, at least one of which involved a middle school student, were reported yesterday. Details on the latest cases were not immediately available.


The Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce and Anne Arundel Community College are co-sponsoring "Dealing with Difficult Customers" from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Mar. 12 and 14 at the college's Arnold Campus.

The cost is $25 and covers the twosessions in this continuing education course designed for those who deal with customers frequently. Students will learn how to develop defusing skills such as removing emotional undercurrents while maintaining composure under pressure. Topics include techniques used to convert customer dissatisfaction into satisfaction.

Information: ShawnaMusgrove, 268-7676.

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