By Carmina Tiscareño
New Media & Fashion Editor
A recent outbreak of the measles virus has been traced to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. As of press date, this latest outbreak accounts for 103 of the 121 cases of the virus reported in 17 states this year.
In Illinois, nine cases stem from a Chicago suburb KinderCare Learning Center, according to CNN. However, this epidemic is not believed to be linked to the Disneyland outbreak, Dr. Terry Mason, chief operating officer for the county’s health and hospitals systems said in an article for The Associated Press.
According to another Associated Press article, in 2014, Ohio reported almost four times as many cases than the reported cases from California. During that outbreak, 383 people from Ohio’s Amish country fell ill after a group of unvaccinated Amish missionaries returned from the Philippines.
That outbreak garnered less attention because it took place in a close-knit religious community, posing no threat to the public outside that group.
Brookhaven College nurse Mildred Kelley said the measles virus is very contagious and mimics the flu.
“[Flu] symptoms usually come first, then the rash develops,” Kelley said. Those symptoms include a high fever, a form of pink eye and sometimes a sore throat. The virus is contagious before one breaks out with the rash, which appears after four days of flu-like symptoms.
The rash begins to show on the head and face, then moves down the rest of the body. Kelley said the rash is not itchy, but is usually splotchy and flat.
Kelley said the virus spreads by mucus droplets when one coughs or sneezes. According to nytimes.com, “just being in a room that a measles patient has left an hour before can lead to infection, and a person who has no symptoms and feels fine can still be infectious.”
Kelley said people who run the risk of infection include older adults and anyone who does not have the measles vaccination. Pregnant women who have not received both of the required doses of the vaccine are also at risk.
People with weak immune systems have a higher risk of catching the virus as well, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said in an article on npr.org. Those people include anyone undergoing cancer treatment, babies and organ donor recipients.
Anyone who did not get the measles vaccination as a child can get the vaccination as an adult. Dr. Marguerite Mayers, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, said people who have had the disease or the vaccines are virtually immune to the measles for life, and that immunity never wears off. Kelley said measles complications might result in encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and permanent hearing loss or death in nearly two of every 1,000 people infected.
Kelley said “when someone has a fever, as healthcare professionals we always tell them, ‘Whatever you have is contagious.’” Healthcare professionals encourage people to stay at home when running a high fever.
They also recommend patients isolate themselves and monitor symptoms.
“We also want to educate them on what [symptoms] to look for,” Kelley said. If it’s the measles, patients will know in about four to five days if they break out in a rash. At that moment, patients need to seek medical attention.
Anyone who has questions about measles symptoms can stop by Room S072.
Kelley said for more information about measles, students can refer to the Texas Department of Health website and cdc.gov.
“Those websites will keep you up to date with what is going on in the county, state and in the United States,” she said.