SAN ANDREAS - The California Department of Public Health has reported a sharp increase in measles cases in the state. Fifteen cases of measles have been confirmed so far this year. Last year at the same time only two cases had been reported.
“No measles cases have been reported at this time in Calaveras County,” stated Dr. Kelaita, County Health Officer. “Measles is a very contagious viral disease that is spread through the air when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes.” A measles outbreak is occurring in the Philippines. Many other parts of the world are experiencing cases. Since 2000, almost all measles cases in the United States have been linked to world travel in areas where measles is present. Travelers that are not vaccinated can bring it back to our country if they are not vaccinated prior to travel.
The vaccination rate for school children in Calaveras is below that of the state. “That means that we have a large group of children who are susceptible to measles,” continued Dr. Kelaita. Infants less than 12 months of age are too young to receive the vaccine. Infants, pregnant women and immune compromised persons are at more risk of severe complications from measles. Two doses of MMR [Measles, Mumps Rubella] vaccine are needed by children before entering kindergarten. Unvaccinated children and adults who have not already had the disease increase the risk of spreading the disease in the community.
Measles symptoms begin with a fever lasting for a few days, followed by a cough, runny nose, red watery eyes and a rash. The rash usually starts on the face, behind the ears and then covers the rest of the body. An infected person can spread the disease for about 8 days – 4 days before the rash starts and 4 days after the rash appears on the body.
The best prevention is to receive the recommended doses of vaccine. Measles and other childhood diseases can be prevented with immunizations. “Now is the time to be sure your child is vaccinated so that we can prevent measles cases in Calaveras County,” stated Dr. Kelaita. “Contact your doctor or clinic about receiving the vaccine.”
Immunizations for children are available at Public Health Services for children up to 18 years of age if they do not have immunization coverage or if they have Medi-Cal. No one who is eligible to receive vaccine is denied because of inability to pay the $16 fee. Immunization clinics are held at the Public Health office in San Andreas every Monday from 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM and Thursday from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM. On the third Tuesday of each month an immunization clinic is held at Valley Springs United Methodist Church from 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM. Call Public Health Services for more information at 754.6592 and visit the Public Health website at www.calaveras.ca.us.