A suspected case of measles in a student who attends Central Junior High School is prompting an alert by local health officials.
The case was reported Friday to the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department by the student's physician.
"We're acting as if this is a confirmed case because the boy's physician strongly suggested that this indeed was measles and the boy meets all of the clinical case definitions of measles," Kay Kent, health department administrator, said.
Confirmation of measles cannot be made for approximately three weeks. To confirm a measles case, blood samples must be taken from the patient during the suspected illness and after a convalesence period, which lasts as long as three weeks.
In the meantime, the health department will administer measles vaccinations to Central students on Tuesday and Wednesday at the school. Questionnaires and consent forms are being sent home today with students. Parents must sign the forms and return them to the school by Tuesday in order for students to receive the vaccine.
Kent said the department is recommending revaccination for all Central students. The only exceptions are those whose doctors can document that the student has contracted measles in the past and students who can document receiving two measles vaccines on or after their first birthday.
The revaccination policy is based on recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Kent said.
Symptoms of measles include a red, blotchy rash that usually appears on the face and an accompanying fever of 101 degrees. Other symptoms include sore throat, cough, headache, muscle ache and watery discharge from eyes and nose.
Complications of measles include severe ear infection, pneumonia, convulsions, encephalitis and even death in some cases.
Measles patients are considered to be contagious for up to four days after the rash disappears. Measles is spread by direct contact or by coughing or sneezing, Kent said.