Emergency physicians relearn how to spot measles amid outbreak

After 23 confirmed measles cases in a U.S. outbreak, emergency departments are retraining their employees, who might be unprepared for clinical diagnoses, ABC News reported Feb. 16. 

Measles used to be a common childhood disease, but its prevalence has declined since the invention of a vaccine in the 1960s. Medical students still learn about the disease in school, but most physicians have never dealt with it. 

At Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the six-state outbreak spurred leaders to educate staff about diagnosing a patient who presents fever, cough, conjunctivitis and a rash. 

"The vast majority of physicians in the emergency room that I work with [have] never seen measles before," Keri Cohn, MD, medical director of bioresponse and a pediatric emergency room physician at the hospital, told ABC News. "And that is something that we've had to really kind of remind people, 'This is how it presents; these are the things that you're looking for.'"

Nicholas Cozzi, MD, EMS medical director at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, said most contemporary emergency physicians need to be aware. 

"If we don't think of it, we're not going to diagnose it," Dr. Cozzi said. "If it's not on top of our mind, we're not going to consider it."

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