Kansas' worst measles outbreak in almost 30 years is now officially over. But there are still a few more days left for another outbreak on the Missouri side of Kansas City.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Wednesday that the threat caused by an outbreak that began in a Johnson County daycare in March has passed after 22 people in three counties were infected.
“We are happy and relieved that this outbreak has concluded,” said KDHE State Epidemiologist Farah Ahmed. “Because of the unfortunate circumstance of this starting in a daycare environment where many children were too young to be vaccinated, we and local health departments were challenged to track those infected and make sure the public took appropriate precautions. Most people followed instructions, and we were able to contain the outbreak without major health complications."
The outbreak eventually spread to Miami County and Linn County but the bulk of the 22 cases hit residents of Johnson County. It was the most cases of measles Kansas has had in a year since 1990.
The Centers for Disease Control declared measles eliminated in the United States in 2000 after widespread vaccination made native cases nearly nonexistent. But outbreaks still happen when people bring the illness back to the U.S. from abroad.
The virus that caused the Kansas outbreak came from Asia.
In an unusual coincidence, an outbreak caused by a virus from Central America started on the Missouri side of the metro a few weeks later, causing 13 cases in that state.
There has not been a new case in that outbreak since April 30, but public health officials need two 21-day incubation periods to pass before they declare a measles outbreak over. A spokesman for the Kansas City Health Department said it is waiting until June 11.
Measles is highly contagious and during the two concurrent outbreaks state and local health departments released list after list of public places where people with the virus were known to have visited and potentially exposed others. Those potential exposures are now no longer threats, because the incubation period has passed.
Most people who get measles recover with rest and supportive care. But it can cause serious complications like pneumonia and, more rarely, encephalitis.