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Johnson County Reports First Case of Measles in Six Years

By Elana Gordon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Health officials in Johnson County, Kansas have identified a case of measles, a disease they haven't seen there in more than five years.

Lougene Marsh, director of Johnson county's health department, says the disease, which is airborne, used to be pretty common.

"From my own personal experience, it was almost a right of childhood that you got measles and stayed home from school and were treated, and in general, recovered and went about your life," Marsh says.

Marsh says symptoms of measles can include a cough, fever, and rash. Infants and people with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of life-threatening complications from the disease, like pneumonia.

Since a measles vaccine came out in the sixties, widespread immunization efforts have mostly eradicated the virus in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 49 cases of measles nationwide this year, as of April 16.

Marsh says the investigation into the current measles case is ongoing, but the department's already contacted everyone who may have been exposed to the disease.

The Kansas City Star reports the infected individual had not been vaccinated, and that Blue Valley North High School sent parents an email yesterday, acknowledging the measles case was found at the school. Students and staff who hadn't been vaccinated were advised to stay home through next week.

Across state line, health officials in Kansas City, Missouri say it's been at least a decade since a measles case has surfaced there.

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