An estimated 20,000 people attended a large religious gathering in Kentucky on the same days as a resident who was infected with measles last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday, with potential contacts who may have been exposed to the highly transmissible virus now spanning multiple states and countries.
According to CBS News, The CDC is urging doctors to “be on high alert for measles symptoms” among people who attended the gathering and is actively working with Kentucky authorities to search for additional cases.
“Community transmission of measles in connection with this event is possible, particularly among unvaccinated or under-vaccinated individuals,” CDC spokesperson Scott Pauley said in a statement.
Pauley said that the agency is urging unvaccinated people who may have been exposed at the Asbury University gathering to contact a doctor and get vaccinated. Vaccines or immunoglobulin can be administered following exposure to unvaccinated or under vaccinated people to fend off the virus.
The CDC’s plea follows a weeks-long religious “revival” gathering hosted by Asbury University in Kentucky. Thousands had flocked to Asbury University in the Kentucky town of Wilmore, far outstripping the town’s population of some 6,000 residents.
CBS affiliate WKYT reported the spontaneous gathering began on Feb. 8, after some students decided to remain in the Christian liberal arts university’s chapel after a scheduled service had ended. It ultimately attracted 50 to 70,000 people, the station reported, as word of the event had spread on social media.
The university says in the past it has hosted multiple “great revivals,” which are typically marked by a series of consecutive religious services held over several days. The university says it does not plan to host or sponsor any additional “outpouring” services at this time.