Measles Scare Ends at Children's Museum

PHOTO: Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is seen in this Aug. 5, 2010 photo.MyLoupe/Getty Images
Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is seen in this Aug. 5, 2010 photo.

Health officials in Pennsylvania announced the end to a measles scare this week at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia and in a nearby pharmacy.

The health department initially announced that person who "likely has the measles" may have exposed people to the highly contagious disease at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia on Monday from 3:30 to 5 p.m., but the person has tested negative for the virus, according to a statement from the state health department. They did not say whether the person was a child or an adult.

“Based on initial information received from those involved in the treatment of the individual and based on initial investigation by the department, it was believed this was a likely case of measles and public notification was made out of an abundance of caution," said Pennsylvania health secretary Michael Wolf.

Wolf said that there is no longer a public health risk for the measles in southeastern Pennsylvania.

The initial measles exposure alert came as health officials recorded 20 measles outbreaks nationwide over the past year despite the fact that measles is considered a vaccine-preventable disease.

Officials were concerned because it could take up to two weeks for symptoms to appear in those who were exposed to the virus.

"Infected droplets and secretions can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours," according to a health department statement. The measles virus can also spread through the air and can remain airborne for a few hours.

Health experts were particularly concerned about the person's visit to the museum because many of the museum's visitors may be too young to have had their MMR vaccine, which protects them from the measles. Admission to the museum is free for children under a year old.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 610 measles case in 20 separate outbreaks in 2014 alone, which is more than triple the number of cases in any single year since 2001. The agency suggested that a large outbreak in the Philippines may be partially to blame.