County health dept urges vigilance about measles

Child receiving a vaccination

This article appeared on the Huron Daily Tribune. Read more here.

The Midland County Department of Public Health urges residents to be aware of their risk factors and prevention options for measles.

The risk of exposure to measles is higher if traveling internationally or spending time where international travelers are present.

Globally, measles cases increased by 79% in 2023, according to the World Health Organization. In the European region during 2023, 40 of the 53 countries saw increased cases and outbreaks of measles.

In 2024, the US has 45 reported cases of measles in 17 states as of March 7, compared to 58 cases in all of 2023. Michigan reported its first case of measles since 2019 earlier this month, and has three confirmed cases as of March 15.

Measles is spread through the air, or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Infectious virus-containing droplets can remain in the air and on contaminated surfaces for up to two hours.

Those who are not fully vaccinated against measles, or have not had measles in the past, are at increased risk of being infected with measles if exposed. People born in 1956 or earlier are presumed immune to measles.

Symptoms of measles usually begin 7-14 days after exposure, but can appear up to 21 days after exposure. Illness is marked by fever with cough, nasal congestion, and conjunctivitis. A red raised blotchy rash begins on the face 2-4 days after the onset of fever, and spreads to the trunk, arms, and legs over several days.

If you develop symptoms of measles, it is recommended to call ahead for guidance before visiting a healthcare provider to ensure proper precautions are taken.

The best protection against measles is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97% effective. The vaccine is also effective if used within 72 hours of measles exposure to prevent illness.

Due to the highly contagious nature of measles, exposed individuals who were born after 1956 and are unvaccinated, or those who receive vaccine more than 72 hours after exposure, should be excluded from school, day-care, and other public/congregate settings for 21 days after the rash onset of the last measles exposure.

The Midland County Department of Public Health offers the MMR vaccine by appointment, which can be made by calling 989-832-6380. A list of accepted insurance and a sliding fee scale based on income can be found at https://midlandcountymi.gov/health

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