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Exclusive: North Carolina Measles Outbreak - What Happened At The Hospital

10:50 PM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, N.C. - Measles cases in America are rare. The Centers for Disease Control reports about sixty people a year, on average, contract the disease. Many American doctors have never seen, much less treated the measles.

However, those facts don't make the mother of the man who brought measles to North Carolina feel any better.

"They admitted him. They treated his symptoms for three days and three nights and tested him for everything and told him to go home...with a full body rash...I'm upset. I specifically asked the doctor, every day, 'Is he contagious?' They assured me he was not," the mother told WFMY News 2.

WFMY News 2 has learned the man was admitted to Wesley Long Hospital. Thursday, Cone Health Infectious Disease Specialist Tim Lane told WFMY News 2 it makes sense doctors didn't realize the man had measles because there are always surprises and unusual situations and diseases at hospitals.

However, when staff realized someone with measles had been in this hospital, Lane says the hospital took action.

"We had a tremendous effort. Hundreds of person hours, calling people who may have shared air with the initial case...People who may have been in the same radiology department when the patient was there getting procedures done, images taken, x-rays taken. We had a big follow-up. Several hundred people were contacted. They all had the ability to call in. Some people did get fevers. Some people did get rashes. But, we evaluated all of those patients and none of them had measles," Lane said.

Why didn't anyone else at the hospital get measles? Lane says it's because most people are vaccinated. So, how could no one realize the man had measles?

"These extremely rare events are impossible to sort out and sift out. Even though we like to be perfect, we can't be perfect. So, I have no concern about that. I understand the public's concern. But, the most important thing that happened at Cone Health is, as soon as we recognized this as a measles case, then we made sure proper isolation procedures took place. But, we had no spread of the disease within the hospital or any patients because we have a pretty good system built here," Lane said.

In the end, Lane says there are two key lessons here.

"Vaccines are enormously effective. Two, the world is not perfect. The medical world is not perfect. But, we do a pretty darn good job," Lane said.

Many local health departments are offering free vaccines. To schedule an appointment, call your local health department. Phone numbers are available by clicking here.

WFMY News 2

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