Waiting in isolation: Portage County keeping close eye on possible measles cases

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PORTAGE COUNTY (WITI) -- The disease has been spotted in communities across the country, and now suspected cases of measles right here in Wisconsin.

Two people in Portage County are still in isolation after they're suspected of having measles.

FOX6 News spoke with the county's health officer minutes after he spoke with the state on Friday, February 13th. He says nothing new to report, tests are still ongoing to determine if Portage County will go from the first place in Wisconsin with the suspected cases of the measles -- to confirmed.

There have been 121 cases of measles in the U.S. so far this year in 17 states, and now Wisconsin may soon join that list.

Gary Garske, with the Portage County Health and Human Services Department says his office has been swamped with phone calls.

"The moms are anxious because they heard a rumor about it, so we're doing a lot of control the rumors," said Garske.

The cases have been referred to the state for testing, but any results will not come back until Monday, February 16th, at the earliest.

The two people who displayed symptoms are in isolation -- staying in their homes and only having contact with immediate family.

"In this case a notification was made to us and we begin the follow-up procedures as far as digging into who's the cause, what is their relationship as far as close contacts and looking at possible sources of exposure," said Garske.

Garske says the good news in all of this is people are once again reminded to stay current on their immunizations, and of what can happen if you don't.

"Here in Portage County, as well as over Wisconsin, we are just watching carefully and monitoring our communities for signs and symptoms of measles," said Garske.

Of the dozens of calls coming in, Garske says no others have been flagged as 'suspected cases yet' -- something that can be determined by a series of questions.

"1, do you have a fever? 2, do you have a cough? 3, do you have a rash? And finally, we'll ask about your immunization status with MMR. If you were to answer no, you would be labeled as a suspect case of measles and we would ask you to seek out care from your medical provider," said Garske.

Garske says 94% of Portage County citizens have up-to-date immunization records. It's the group that isn't he is most concerned about right now. He says besides getting your shot, you should avoid large groups as measles is spread through the air or direct contact.

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