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Measles cases in Illinois feed fear about disease

Two infants who attend a KinderCare Learning Center in Palatine, Ill., have tested positive for measles, and three more cases have been diagnosed, based on clinical and other criteria, according to a statement from the Cook County Department of Public Health and state officials. Officials say it is not clear whether these cases are linked to a previously confirmed case in suburban Cook County or to the outbreak associated with Disneyland in California, according to media reports.

All parents, staff and faculty have been notified about the measles cases at KinderCare. Anyone who has not had the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine was instructed to stay at home and away from unvaccinated individuals for the next 21 days.

The two infants confirmed to have measles had not been vaccinated, according to media reports. The MMR vaccine is generally not given to children under age 1. Two doses of the MMR vaccine is recommended for children, starting between 12 and 15 months. The second dose should be given before the child enters kindergarten (between 4 and 6 years of age).

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and death and is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing or sneezing. It can remain in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

In response to the recent measles outbreak, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology prepared a measles fact sheet to educate healthcare professionals and consumers. According to the APIC fact sheet, measles can spread before a rash or any other symptoms appear on the infected individual (fact sheet available at www.apic.org).

From Jan. 1 to Jan. 30, 102 people from 14 states were reported to have measles, according to the CDC. Most of these cases are part of a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. On Jan. 23, the CDC issued a health advisory to notify public health departments and healthcare facilities about the multi-state outbreak and to provide guidance for healthcare providers nationwide. The CDC will provide updated data reports weekly on Mondays.

The U.S. experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 cases from 27 states, according to the CDC. This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000. The majority of the people who got measles were unvaccinated.

Outbreaks in countries to which Americans often travel can contribute to an increase in measles cases in the U.S., according to the CDC. In 2014, the U.S. experienced 23 measles outbreaks, including one large outbreak of 383 cases, occurring primarily among unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio. Many of the cases in the U.S. in 2014 were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines, which experienced a large measles outbreak, according to the CDC.

In a Jan. 29 CDC press briefing, Anne Schuchat, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said, measles is still common around the world, with an estimated 20 million cases occurring each year. “In 2013, about 145,700 people died of measles across the world,” Schuchat said in the briefing, noting that the disease can easily enter the country via visitors and travelers. “Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to the person who aren’t immune will also be infected.”

The current outbreak has led to widespread discussion about the importance of vaccination and the reasons why parent may opt not to have their children vaccinated. “One in 12 children in the United States is not receiving their first dose of MMR on time,” Schuchat said in the briefing. “That makes them vulnerable to get measles and spread measles. Seventeen states have less than 90% of children having received at least one dose.”

Not only are unvaccinated children at risk, but more cases of adults with measles are emerging. Schuchat said adults who are unsure if they have been vaccinated or if they ever had measles, should contact their physician or nurse and get vaccinated. “There is no harm in getting another MMR vaccine if you have already been vaccinated,” she said.

Schuchat said unvaccinated individuals put themselves and others at risk, including infants and pregnant women. “Pregnant women and people with compromising conditions like leukemia can’t get the vaccination and they are depending on others to have been vaccinated,” she said. “We hope pregnant women have been vaccinated as children, but we are learning of some who have not been vaccinated so they have to be protected through other means. This is not just to protect ourselves and our families but to protect the vulnerable people in our community.”

By | 2015-02-06T00:00:00-05:00 February 6th, 2015|Categories: National|0 Comments

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