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Another case of measles investigated in Florida

Officials urge residents to vaccinate amid measles outbreak in US

(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – Officials with the Florida Department of Health are investigating another case of the measles.

Health officials in Pinellas County said Wednesday the case was reported in a 72-year-old man who recently traveled to Asia.

The case marks the second reported in Florida amid a recent uptick in measles cases reported throughout the U.S.

[RELATED: More than 20 million children miss measles vaccine each yearUS measles outbreak is largest since disease was declared eliminated in 2000]

Following the reported case in Florida last month, health officials throughout the state are encouraging residents and visitors to vaccinate against the disease.

Although measles was thought to be nearly eradicated in the United States in 2000, the disease has reappeared in recent months in the form of outbreaks in several states. The Florida case was reported in March and involves a man in Broward County, a state health official said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Global Health Protection defines a measles outbreak as three or more cases. 

What is the measles virus and its symptoms?

Measles is an acute, highly contagious, viral disease. Although it is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age. Generally, preschool children, adolescents, young adults and inadequately immunized individuals comprise the majority of measles cases.

[MORE: What you need to know about measles]

Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. The symptoms of measles generally begin about seven to 14 days after a person is exposed to someone with measles. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and rash. Anyone who has these symptoms should contact his or her health care provider. There is no specific treatment for measles, only prevention.

How to protect yourself

The best way to protect yourself and your family against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is by immunization, according to health officials. In Florida, children should be immunized against measles with the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and should receive two doses, with the first at 12 to 15 months and the second at 4 to 6 years old. 

[MORE: Are you protected from measles? It may depend on when you were bornMeasles case reported in Florida; residents, tourists urged to get vaccinated]

Adults should be vaccinated with at least one dose of MMR vaccine, with a second dose recommended for those at higher risk, such as international travelers and health care workers. People with underlying health conditions should discuss with their health care provider to determine the need for additional booster doses.

Children ages 18 and under can get the MMR vaccine and required childhood immunizations for free at the Health Department in Bunnell. Walk-in hours are 8 a.m.
to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Pinellas County offers free vaccines to people through the age of 18 at the following locations:

* St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
* Pinellas Park: 6350 76th Ave. N.
* Mid-County (Largo): 8751 Ulmerton Rd.
* Clearwater: 310 N. Myrtle Ave.
* Tarpon Springs: 301 S. Disston Ave.

Adults can get MMR II vaccines for $85.67 without an appointment at the above addresses, according to health officials.

For more information, visit floridahealth.gov/measles.

Officials are encouraging people to stay on high alert and report any potential cases to health officials.