Number of Measles Cases On the Rise

By EGP Staff Report

State public health officials are worried a large increase in the number of measles cases statewide is due to people intentionally avoiding vaccination for the highly preventable, but contagious viral disease.

There are 49 confirmed measles cases in California so far this year, the California Department of Public Health reported this week. That’s a significant increase from the four cases reported at the same time last year.

“This dramatic jump in the number of measles cases is a reminder to get fully vaccinated,” Dr. Ron Chapman, California’s public health director and state health officer, said in the statement released March 28. “Being fully vaccinated against measles does more than just protect the person who receives the vaccination — it also protects their family and friends, including children who may be too young to be vaccinated.”

Ten of the 49 cases reported were in Los Angeles County. Eleven cases statewide involved patients who had traveled to “parts of the world where outbreaks are actively occurring or where measles is widespread,” stated public health officials, further noting that in 30 of the 49 cases, the patient had contact with someone who had the illness.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can be spread through the air, a cough or a sneeze. Symptoms include a fever that lasts for a couple of days, followed by a cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes and rash. Infants, pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems are more susceptible to measles complications, such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia and in severe cases, death. Measles are usually contagious for four days before and four days after the rash appears.

Public health experts credit California’s high immunization rates for keeping preventable diseases, like measles, at record lows – 4 to 40 a year for the past 20 years. Measles was “declared eliminated” in the U.S in 2000.

Children are recommended to get their first dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine at 12 to 15 months, and a second dose before entering kindergarten. Adults born after 1957 who did not get two doses should get a booster. It is recommended that anyone planning to travel outside North or South America who has not been vaccinated should get the MMR vaccine before they leave.

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April 3, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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