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March 6, 2023
The Kentucky Department for Public Health identified a confirmed case of measles in an unvaccinated individual with a history of recent international travel. While infectious, the individual attended a large religious gathering on February 17–18, 2023, at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. An estimated 20,000 people attended the gathering from Kentucky, other U.S. states, and other countries during February 17–18, and an undetermined number of these people may have been exposed.
Healthcare providers should be vigilant for potential measles infections among persons who attended the religious event at Ashbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, had contact with an attendee, or had recent international travel. The greatest risk of measles introduction into U.S. communities is through international travel to areas where outbreaks are occurring. With declines in measles vaccination rates globally during the COVID-19 pandemic, measles outbreaks are occurring in all World Health Organization (WHO) Regions. Large outbreaks (≥20 reported measles cases per million population over a period of 12 months) have been reported in the European, African, Eastern Mediterranean, and Southeast Asian Regions. The United States has seen an increase in measles cases from 49 in 2021 to 121 in 2022, all among children who weren’t fully vaccinated, including outbreaks in Minnesota and Ohio.
People infected with measles are considered infectious from four days prior to rash onset through four days after rash (total of nine days). Healthcare facilities should screen patients for possible symptoms or exposure to measles either at triage or when scheduling appointments to identify potentially infectious cases and promptly implement recommended infection control measures to prevent transmission to other patients and staff.
This health advisory adapted from Public Health Seattle & King County