The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Wednesday reported the first case of measles this year and has so far put 467 people on a watch list for further follow-ups to prevent widespread infection.
The measles patient is a 28-year-old Swiss male who is currently a student at a college in the north of the country. He is suspected of having contracted measles overseas. He admitted himself for emergency treatment at a hospital on Thursday last week, CDC Deputy Director-General Lin Ting (林頂) said.
Because the emergency ward at the time was filled with hundreds of patients and their family members, as well as nurses, doctors and other emergency medical staff, the number of people that the measles patient potentially came in contact with and could have infected was as many as 467 people, the CDC said.
Among the people who are in danger of contracting measles from the male student are eight infants who were at the hospital at the time and are at higher risk of developing a serious illness. All 467 people have been put on a watch list for health officials to follow up for treatment, if necessary, to stop the case developing into a widespread infection.
Although the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine has been widely administered to infants and young children since 1978, there are still parts of the population that have not been vaccinated and therefore do not have immunity against the disease, the CDC said.
Measles is a highly infectious, airborne disease that can even be contracted by going into an elevator in which a measles patient was recently present and one measles patient often infects as many as 12 to 18 people, Lin said.
Symptoms of the disease include coughing, high fever, runny nose, red eyes and a red rash for between a week and 10 days. Those who have recently traveled to India, China and other high-risk countries are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.
The CDC said that those who have developed such symptoms should put on a face mask, avoid using public transport and visit a hospital immediately.