New measles case means make sure you’re vaccinated

A second measles case in the state for 2018 has the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services again advising residents make sure they are vaccinated against this disease.

This new case, detected June 12 at the Detroit airport, is unrelated to the first one for the year reported in March. But both had a connection of sorts — they developed after that person had been exposed outside the country.

Health officials now are in the process of contacting potentially exposed passengers from the flight, plus those encountered at the airport.

It points up how measles still can manage to be a threat, even in areas that might not seem vulnerable. Again, reason to have that vaccine.

Measles, after all, is a preventable respiratory infection that can result in hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. The illness begins with a high fever, red eyes, cough, runny nose, and is followed by a red, raised body rash starting on the head and face that then spreads to the rest of the body. Measles patients often experience eye pain and sensitivity to light. Cases can be contagious a few days before the rash appears, which increases the possibility of unknowingly exposing others.

“Immunizations are the best way to protect our families and communities from the harmful, sometimes deadly consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS. “If you have questions about a child’s vaccination status or your own vaccination history, talk to your doctor right away to ensure your family has optimal protection.”

Successful prevention and control of measles requires high levels of immunity in all communities, state officials said.

The measles vaccine is highly effective and very safe. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of the vaccine.

The first of two routine childhood measles vaccine doses is given at 12 months of age. A second vaccine dose is given before the start of kindergarten.

For international travel, infants as young as 6 months should be vaccinated against measles. Measles vaccine, or other acceptable documentation of immunity to measles, is recommended for all persons travelling internationally.

Measles is a rare disease in the United States as a result of inclusion of the measles vaccine in routine childhood immunization since the 1960s. From 2001 to 2012, the average number of measles cases reported nationally per year was about 60.

However, measles continues to be common in other countries.

This year several countries in Europe are reporting significant measles outbreaks, including France, Italy, Germany, England, Romania and Ukraine, among others. Recent outbreaks have also been reported in Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil.

And in recent year, U.S. measles cases have been on the rise, with 118 cases in 2017, including two cases in Michigan.

The majority of people who got measles were not vaccinated.

To help parents protect their children, MDHHS has partnered with the Franny Strong Foundation to launch the I Vaccinate campaign, which provides vaccination facts for parents to make informed decisions about vaccinations. For more information, go online to IVaccinate.org.

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