Florida Department of Health says Pasco County measles case has been 'ruled out'


As the nation copes with its largest measles outbreak in more than two decades, a third measles case was supposedly reported in Florida.

That's not true, says the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County.

"The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County has determined there have been no cases of measles in 2019," the department says in a statement. "It has been recently reported that Pasco County had its first positive case of measles this year. This illness was investigated and ruled out as measles."

Two measles cases were reported in Broward and Pinellas counties earlier this year. Both cases involved Florida residents who were unvaccinated and acquired the highly contagious virus while traveling outside the U.S.

Between Jan. 1 and April 30, the FDH identified and tested 311 people who may have come in contact with a person with measles. Most of the contacts, the department notes, took place in settings such as a doctor's office.

Florida saw 15 measles cases last year, the FDH says – a jump compared to 2013 to 2017, in which fewer than 10 cases were reported each year.

From Jan. 1 to May 24, 940 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 26 states so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A sobering study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases found that Orange County is among four Florida counties that are most susceptible to a measles outbreak, in part due to the region's abundance of travelers. In Orange County, roughly 7.6 percent of 1,300 children between ages 4 and 18 that live near Orlando International Airport have religious exemptions to the measles vaccination, according to a map provided by the Florida Department of Health.

Those rates are similar to the state's overall vaccination rates, which remain above 90 percent. The FHD cites the state's immunization rate for kindergarteners at about 94 percent in the 2018-2019 school year, while more than 96 percent of seventh-graders had also been immunized.

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