An outbreak of measles in Washtenaw County elementary schools does not pose a major threat to the University, local public health officials said yesterday.
Nine suspected cases have been reported to the Washtenaw County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control in the last two weeks. The scare began 11 days ago when a student at Burns Park Elementary School in Ann Arbor started to show symptoms of the disease after his family returned from a trip to Europe, county and federal officials said in a conference call yesterday.
The officials said they are not worried about the disease infecting the University student body or residence halls.
“There is some reassurance of the fact that we have not had a huge number of suspects in the area and nobody from the University,” said Stan Reedy, the public health medical director for Washtenaw County.
He said the only reason to worry about the virus reaching the community would be if these elementary school children visited campus or if University students visit classrooms in the Ann Arbor area.
“Although the potential is there, that is not really a major concern,” Reedy said.
Measles is considered an outbreak after only one confirmed case because it is highly contagious, he said. The virus can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or shares a drink.
Reedy said the department has adequately responded to the cases.
“An appropriate public health response to a public case of measles involves a notification to those who could be exposed,” Reedy said. “We’ve not held back.”
The Burns Park Elementary school case was initially reported as a positive test, but it was later discovered that two samples had been mixed up, said Ann Schuchat, the director of the National Immunization Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control. The sample has now been sent to the Centers for Disease Control’s Atlanta headquarters for further testing.
So far, there has been one confirmed case of the measles, from a student at Angell Elementary School in Ann Arbor. The student was quarantined and the student’s period of transmission has passed.
As the situation now stands, four other tests have come back negative and four more are still awaiting lab results. The nine cases involved elementary school children in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area, all of whom had already received the measles vaccine.