Measles Outbreak Close to Home

A recent outbreak of measles is hitting close to Wisconsin borders. As of May 10, 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health is reporting that 51 cases of measles have been confirmed. Forty-seven (92%) of the cases are confirmed to be unvaccinated. The majority of those infected are children between ages 0-17 years. At this time, 15 people affected have been hospitalized and no one has died. There is no reported spread of this outbreak into Wisconsin at this time. Due to the nature of how measles is spread, at least 7,000 people have been exposed to the virus in day care and health care settings during this outbreak. Measles is a virus that causes high fevers, cough, tiredness, red watery eyes, and a red rash that often starts at the head and moves down towards the arms and legs. Severe cases of measles can lead to death. Measles is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. The virus stays in the air for 2 hours once an infected person leaves the room and is very contagious. If you are around the virus and unvaccinated, it is highly likely that you will become ill.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), the best way to protect you and your loved ones from this disease it is through vaccination. The MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine is very effective at protecting people against measles, mumps, and rubella, and preventing the complications caused by these diseases. Two doses of MMR vaccine are 97% effective against measles, 88% effective against mumps and 97% effective against rubella (CDC, 2016).

The CDC recommends all children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Children can receive the second dose earlier as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose. People who receive two doses of MMR vaccine as children according to the United States vaccine schedule are considered protected for life. Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine viruses are not passed on from the vaccinated person, so a recently vaccinated person would not pose a risk to a pregnant woman. If you are unsure of your status, you can check your immunization record at:  https://www.dhfswir.org/PR/clientSearch.do?language=en    or call the Lincoln County Health Department at 715-536-0307 for a record check or for more information regarding vaccine preventable diseases.

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