This story has been updated to reflect discovery of a new measles case in Maryland.
A third case of measles in Maryland was confirmed Wednesday in suburban Baltimore, prompting new concern from state health officials about the spread of the highly contagious virus.
The Maryland Department of Health said people visiting three Pikesville businesses April 14 may have been exposed to measles.
“It is concerning that three cases of measles have been identified in Maryland in such a short period of time,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Frances B. Phillips in a statement. “The measles virus can spread very easily between unvaccinated people, and there have been large outbreaks in several other areas of the country.”
In a second case reported Tuesday, state health officials said the person infected was in the same suburban Baltimore household of another Marylander who apparently was exposed out of state.
Montgomery County health-care providers are “on high alert” and in frequent communication with state officials, but no specific precautions are being taken, according to Mary Anderson, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.
She said if any Montgomery County residents believe they have symptoms of measles they should call their doctor or local emergency room prior to arriving.
“What we don’t want is someone potentially with measles in the emergency room or doctor’s office with all of those other people who we don’t know if they’ve been fully immunized,” Anderson said. “Everyone is on alert status to keep their eyes open and be in communication with the state.”
The state’s first case was reported earlier this month in the Baltimore suburb of Pikesville and state health officials issued an alert that visitors to a medical building on Old Court Road between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on April 2 could have been exposed to the virus.
Through last Thursday, 555 cases of measles have been confirmed in 20 states this year and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of infections is the highest since 2000, when health experts declared measles had been effectively eliminated in the U.S.
In 2017 and 2018, one case was confirmed in Maryland, according to state health statistics.
In addition to Maryland, cases have been reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington, according to the CDC.
A letter sent last week to doctors, clinics and laboratories by the state health department urged immediate infectious-disease protocols, including wearing face masks and gloves.
Patients who suspect they have measles are being told to call their doctor before going to the physician’s office, a clinic or hospital to avoid exposing others to the highly contagious disease.
Symptoms appear a week to 14 days after a person is exposed and can include a fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes followed by a rash.