Second child at LLWS with measles was acquaintance of first case

Updated: August 25, 2007, 12:57 PM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The risk of contracting measles at the Little League World Series was "very low," state health officials said a day after a second case was confirmed in a boy from Japan.

The 12-year-old diagnosed Friday is an acquaintance of a Little League player from Japan who was diagnosed with measles on Aug. 16. The latest case is in voluntary isolation at Williamsport Hospital, and he is expected to recover, Pennsylvania state health officials said Saturday.

Department of Health Secretary Dr. Calvin Johnson said visitors should be informed about measles and practice general public hygiene, like covering your mouth when coughing.

"It's a very low risk primarily because most people are immunized, or have an active immunization against measles," Johnson said at a news conference. "There is no reason in our view for anyone not to attend the Little League games because of this."

Most people born in the United States before 1957 likely have been exposed to measles and have natural immunity; those born after 1957 were likely immunized by the measles, mumps and rubiola vaccine as a child.

The second boy diagnosed arrived in the United States from Japan on Aug. 15 with a group of 25 children and parents visiting Williamsport, the health department said.

He went to Williamsport Hospital on Thursday with symptoms, and was clinically diagnosed with measles the next day, Johnson said.

The first measles case arose Aug. 16, when the 12-year-old player from Japan was diagnosed and isolated from other players. He was released from isolation Aug. 20, after doctors said he was no longer contagious, and has been playing with his squad the past week.

Both boys have rubiola, or the "seven-day measles," health officials said.

The boys appeared not to have contact while in, or en route to, South Williamsport, Little League chief financial officer Dave Houseknecht said before Saturday's international final between Curacao and Japan.

State health officials said the boys may have had contact before leaving Japan. There is also a "significant epidemic" of measles now in Japan and specifically in Tokyo, said Betsy Hunt, a state health epidemiology manager.

The movements of the group traveling with the boy in the second case "have been limited" and health officials are determining their risks to measles exposure, Johnson said. They were not at the World Series on Saturday, he added.

Measles is a virus spread through coughing and secretion, so Johnson said the chance of contracting the illness is remote.

Someone with measles can spread the virus to others for five days before and five days after the rash begins. The state asked anyone who attended World Series events from Aug. 16-20 and is not immune to contact their local health department.

While no longer common in the United States, the World Health Organization estimates 30 million people are affected by measles each year. The illness is relatively common elsewhere in the world, including some developed countries in Europe and Asia.

State health officials set up an information tent just outside the Little League complex to answer questions and provide free vaccination shots to anyone still worried about contracting measles.

"There is a limited chance, and limited risk of exposure by this second case to anyone else, but we are monitoring very closely to see if that's the case," Johnson said.

Little League officials last week asked players, coaches and others with Grove access to either prove they already had measles shots; take a blood test; or get an immunization shot on site.

Of the 500 kids and coaches, none of them have measles, health officials said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press