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Vermont confirms first case of measles since 2018

A 3d model of a measles virus, a ball with points on the side.
Measles is a highly-contagious viral disease, but the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine gives very strong protection.

The Vermont Department of Health today reported that a case of measles has been found in Vermont — the first confirmed case of the contagious airborne disease identified in the state since 2018.

According to a press release, the person who tested positive is part of an international group program.

The agency says the risk to the general public is low. However, they are asking anyone who was inside the Hampton Inn in Colchester on Wednesday, April 17 before 3:45 p.m. to monitor for symptoms through May 8, and check if they've been vaccinated.

Measles is a highly contagious virus. Symptoms can mirror a cold — cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a high fever. There may also be a spotty rash. While most cases are mild, the disease can sometimes result in death.

Vermont's case comes as the country sees a spike in measles cases. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 125 cases so far this year — more than double what was reported last year.

The CDC says the spike is being caused primarily by people not getting vaccinated against measles. Since 2000, measles has been considered eliminated in the U.S., but an uptick in cases in the first quarter of this year threatens that status, the agency said earlier this month. The virus is also on the rise globally.

The federal government recommends children get their first dose of the MMR, or measles, mumps and rubella vaccine between 12-15 months old, and a second dose at 4-6 years old. Infants ages 6-11 months old should get the vaccine if traveling outside the country. Adults are protected if they are fully vaccinated. The Health Department suggests all Vermonters check their vaccination status. The vaccine is free to Vermonters if it isn't covered by insurance.

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Brittany Patterson joined Vermont Public in December 2020. Previously, she was an energy and environment reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Ohio Valley ReSource. Prior to that, she covered public lands, the Interior Department and forests for E&E News' ClimateWire, based in Washington, D.C. Brittany also teaches audio storytelling and has taught classes at West Virginia University, Saint Michael's College and the University of Vermont. She holds degrees in journalism from San Jose State University and U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. A native of California, Brittany has fallen in love with Vermont. She enjoys hiking, skiing, baking and cuddling with her rescues, a 95-pound American Bulldog mix named Cooper, and Mila, the most beautiful calico cat you'll ever meet.
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