Health officials warn about national rise in measles cases

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Health officials warn about national rise in measles cases
Photo credit: CDC

County and regional health officials are warning resident planning to travel internationally to be sure they have received the recommended two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, following a nationwide spike in reported cases.

While no reported measles cases have occurred in Contra Costa County this year, county health officials are increasing awareness and expanding the hours of its Travel Immunization Clinic on Fridays in Martinez following 704 reported measles cases across the nation this year, the highest since 1994. Nearly all cases were linked to international travel by unvaccinated people, officials said.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can become serious to the point of being life threatening, particularly for young children. Symptoms, which develop between 7 and 21 days after exposure, include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and a rash.

“Measles is a serious disease,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer. “It’s critical to get vaccinated, both to protect ourselves and the people in our community who can’t receive the vaccine for medical reasons.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children receive their first dose of the MMR vaccine at 12-15 months, and the second at 4-6 years old.

Adults who haven’t been vaccinated should also do so, particularly before traveling internationally, health officials say.

“Talk to your doctor about travel immunizations at least four to six weeks before traveling,” health officials say. “For those travelling internationally with a baby older than 6 months but younger than 12 months, the CDC recommends that the baby receive an early dose of MMR vaccine.”

Visit cchealth.org/immunization/travel.php for more information and the immunization fee schedule.  For more information about measles, visit cchealth.org/measles. Information for clinicians and providers is available at cchealth.org/measles/providers.php

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