Karen A. Alroy
One of the lessons that health care centers learned during New York City’s recent measles outbreak was to screen patients before they entered the facility — either over the phone or while the patient sat in the car — methods that could help reduce exposure and the spread of disease, according to a report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“When providers are practicing in an area experiencing a measles outbreak, screening patients for measles before they enter a clinic can potentially minimize transmission of the virus within the clinic,” Karen A. Alroy, DVM, MPH, a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer embedded with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Healio Primary Care. “If a measles virus exposure does occur in a health care facility, the subsequent response can be time and resource intensive for health care providers and support staff.”
Health officials declared that the measles outbreak, which had sickened over 600 people, had ended this past month. The outbreak threatened the measles elimination status that was granted to the United States in 2000.
To identify infection control procedures during the outbreak, researchers conducted a survey of 15 outpatient health care facilities in the city that reported at least one suspected measles case between Sept. 30, 2018 and Dec. 10, 2018.
All participating centers reported using signs about measles symptoms in their office and screening patients with fever or rash for the disease.
Among the facilities, 13 reported screening patients for measles over the phone during calls to schedule appointments and 12 reported screening during check-in. Ten facilities screened over the phone and during check-in.
Ten health care facilities reported screening patients outdoors or in cars during the outbreak.
The report explained that although it did not evaluate the effectiveness of each strategy in reducing measles exposures, the strategies highlight the importance of quickly screening and identifying patients who may have measles and for health care workers to have a “high index of suspicion” during an outbreak.
Alroy told Healio Primary Care that measles can be identified by upper respiratory symptoms, fever and rash, and that “health care providers should consider screening for measles in patients who have recently traveled and in all patients during an outbreak.” – by Erin Michael
Disclosure: Alroy reports no relevant financial disclosures.