HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut child who was not vaccinated for measles has contracted the highly contagious disease, according to the state Department of Public Health, which urged residents on Friday to make sure their children receive the vaccine.
The unidentified child, who lives in Fairfield County, got infected while traveling internationally, DPH said. The agency is trying to identify people the child may have come in contact with and “implement appropriate control measures.”
The positive measles case comes as the General Assembly is again considering legislation that would end a long-standing state religious exemption that some parents have been using over the past decade to avoid having their children vaccinated, while still enabling them to attend public school.
“The single best way to protect yourself and your children from measles is to be vaccinated,” said DPH Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford in a statement. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has been happening, some children have fallen behind on their immunizations. This measles case is an important reminder that these vaccine-preventable diseases still pose a threat, and that we must protect children through on-time vaccination.”
Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are required to attend schools and colleges in Connecticut. However, there are currently exceptions for students with medical or religious exemptions. DPH said most Connecticut residents have received the vaccine or have had the measles and therefore are not at risk of contracting it.
But the agency warned the disease can spread quickly among unvaccinated people. Those who've been exposed must stay out of school or other high-risk settings for 21 days after their last known exposure, DPH said. Symptoms usually begin seven-14 days after exposure with a moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. Days later a rash and high fever usually develop.