A suspected case of measles at Kansas University has yet to be confirmed, but health officials are urging students to be vaccinated against the disease just in case.
"Everyone is treating it like a probable case of measles," said Dr. Charles Yockey, chief of staff of internists at Watkins Student Health Center. "KDHE (Kansas Department of Health and Environment) is calling the case a high positive, but we won't know until we get the results of the blood test back."
Those results are expected back next week.
During the student's examination last week, two tests, the blood test and an antibodies test called an IGM, were done on the student. The results of the IGM test were back within two days with a positive result, but health officials are waiting for the blood test results to confirm the case.
"Even though the IGM test is extremely accurate, it isn't perfect and can produce a false positive," Yockey said. "Measles is real scary on a campus because it is so contagious and spreads so rapidly. Adults just don't do well with childhood viruses."
The 19-year-old female student was back in class at KU today.
"SHE WAS diagnosed as a probable case last Monday," said Yockey. "She went home to Johnson County last week, but now she's past the contagious stage."
The probable diagnosis for the student was rubeola, commonly called the three-day measles.
Yockey said the health center staff is trying to get students who have come in contact with her or live in Oliver Hall to get vaccinated.
"We tried to get them in," he said. "We put notices up in the dorm and announced it in all the classes. We had nine people come down."
Yockey said he hopes more will show up over the next few days. The vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is free for KU students.
If the test is positive, it will be the first case of measles in Kansas in 1993. In 1990, five cases of measles were confirmed in Douglas County. Three of those were KU students.
"What's scary is that we have no idea where she could have contracted the disease," Yockey said. "There have been no reported measles cases in any of the places she has been."
HEALTH OFFICIALS in Johnson County also have vaccinated individuals who recently came into contact with the student.
Measles symptoms include fever, cough, watery discharge from eyes and nose followed by a dusky-red, blotchy rash first appearing on the face, then becoming generalized. It is spread from person to person by direct contact or droplets from sneezes and coughs. The rash usually develops about 14 days after exposure.
Since 1989, every new student at KU has been required to have proof of a measles vaccination since 12 months of age. That vaccination cannot have been given between 1964 or 1967, when an ineffective vaccine was used.
Those who have been exposed to the disease should have another vaccine if they haven't had a second MMR since 1980, Yockey said.