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Eight measles cases confirmed in Oakland County outbreak


Seven more people have contracted measles in Oakland County, the state health department said Friday morning, bringing the total up to eight. 

This comes just over a week since a visiting Israeli citizen picked up the highly contagious virus in New York and brought it to Michigan.

Health officials are asking anyone showing symptoms not to go to the hospital or their doctor’s office without calling ahead, so they can keep the individual isolated from other patients.

Until now, most of the possible exposure locations were limited to Oakland County’s Orthodox Jewish community, which rallied quickly to get the word out and get people vaccinated.

Now the county says the list of public places where people may have been exposed is far broader: contagious individuals visited Oakland County Circuit Court, several Krogers, a car wash, and multiple Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in the last week (you can see the full list of possible exposure locations here.)

“A lot of times we don’t provide that information of where they are, or what community they’re in, but basically we want the community to know all the locations these individuals may have been while they were contagious,” says Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford.

The virus can live for up to two hours in the air where the infected person was present, according to the health department. Symptoms typically begin 1-2 weeks after exposure, but can take as long as 21 days to appear.

Getting vaccinated – even if you’re just not sure whether you’ve had the measles vaccine yet – is the most effective way of protecting yourself and those around you, Stafford says.

The health department is holding a special measles vaccination clinic Saturday at the South Oakland Health Center in Southfield, from 10 am to 2 pm. It’s open to the public.

Health officials are also asking people traveling outside the state to find out if they’ll be visiting an area with an ongoing outbreak.

“It’s very important as spring break is coming up, and summer break, we’re really encouraging people to check on their vaccinations… or at least watch for signs and symptoms as they come back from vacation,” Stafford says. “If you’re going overseas to the European area, there’s quite a few areas over there where there are outbreaks.”

Last year, Michigan had 19 confirmed cases for all of 2018, according to state health department spokeswoman Angela Minicuci, making it the highest level the state has seen since 1994 when 26 cases were reported. But the 2018 cases were scattered all over the state, rather than clustered in one area like the current outbreak in Oakland County.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story stated there were nine total confirmed measles cases. That is incorrect: the total is eight. The story has been corrected above.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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