MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU Medicine says a patient in Monongalia County has tested positive for measles, the first confirmed case in the Mountain State in 15 years.

Dr. Sherri Young

The unidentified adult patient came to an outpatient clinic last week. The positive test for measles was confirmed Monday.

The patient did not require hospitalization and is recovering at home. WVU Hospitals notified the Monongalia County Health Department which is monitoring the case including doing contact tracing.

The state Department of Health said it’s the first case of measles in West Virginia since 2009. The state said the person was undervaccinated and recently traveled internationally.

Department of Health Secretary Dr. Sherri Young is urging residents be vaccinated.

“The measles vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this preventable disease. Those who receive the vaccine are usually considered protected for life,” Young said.

Dr. Matthew Christiansen

The vaccine is usually given in two doses to children before they are six-years-old.

State Health Officer Dr. Matthew Christiansen said the threat of measles exposure has been growing in the U.S. over the past decade.

“We strongly encourage individuals to follow the CDC’s immunization schedule and get their children fully vaccinated as soon as they are able,” Christiansen said. “A recent measles outbreak in Pennsylvania sickened nine individuals, almost all of whom were unvaccinated.”

Dr. Michael Stevens, WVU Medicine System healthcare epidemiologist said symptoms can appear seven to 14 days after contact with the virus.

“A very high fever which can be up 104-degress or higher, cough, runny nose and often times people develop red and watery eyes,” Dr. Michael Stevens said. “Then around three to five days after this they develop a rash.”

Michael Stevens, Internal Medicine

Tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth two-to-three days after symptoms begin.

“The best way to protect yourself, not only in the immediate term but the longer term is to make sure you get all of the childhood vaccines,” Dr. Stevens said.

Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are more likely to suffer from complications. Common complications are ear infections and diarrhea. Serious complications include pneumonia and encephalitis.

While measles can be serious in all age groups, there are several groups that can suffer severe complications:

–Children younger than 5 years of age

–Adults older than 20 years of age

–Pregnant women

–People with compromised immune systems, such as from leukemia or HIV infection

Individuals who believe they have symptoms consistent with measles should first contact their healthcare provider and follow their instructions before going to an urgent care, physician office, or emergency department and should also limit their contact with family, friends, and the public as the virus is highly transmissible.

Stevens said getting the vaccine will protect you from any lingering affects of the virus after recovery.

“It can be associated with a lot of illness some of which can be long lasting if people get it,” Dr. Stevens said. ” You kids in particular are at risk, but older folks as well.”

WVU Medicine officials strongly recommend residents to stay up to date on all vaccinations. Vaccines are available at MCHD by calling 304-598-5119.

Stevens said measles transmission can spike around periods of high travel.

“So, around the time of spring break, summer travel, holiday travel,” Dr. Stevens said. “Mainly because there’s not a lot of circulating measles in the United State because our childhood vaccination rates protect the population.”

Steven said there is no need to alter everyday plans, but families should make it a priority to make sure every family member is vaccinated.

“People should be aware this disease is out there and the best thing they can do to protect themselves from the measles is to make sure you are up to date with vaccinations,” Dr. Stevens said.