An outbreak of measles is the largest it’s been in 20 years.
According to the Center for Disease Control, at least 129 cases from 13 states, including Illinois, have been reported so far this year alone.
Symptoms typically start with coughing and sore throat and then range from rashes to white spots in the mouth to fever as high as 106 degrees.
“Most of the people who have developed measles had not been vaccinated or had no record of vaccination but there were also people who were vaccinated that still got it so we know the vaccination is not 100%. But it’s the lack of heard immunity that causes the measles,” said Jonathan Pinksy, Medical Director of Infection Control for Edward Hospital.
While some folks nationwide question how safe vaccines are, Dr. Pinsky says it’s best if everyone gets vaccinated. The protection is particularly important for infants because their immune systems haven’t developed fully.
“Generally the vaccinations start around 12 to 15 months, with a second booster. And if you’ve had two that’s considered adequate,” said Dr. Pinsky. “Vaccines can also be given under one year if there’s a high risk of exposure. So someone traveling abroad who might be exposed to measles, we suggest as young even as six months.”
While most cases are mild, measles can cause other complications like pneumonia or even death and there’s no known treatment.
“The goal here is to prevent further complications so someone with measles may be submitted into the hospital for intravenous fluids and supportive and needs to be strictly isolated to prevent transmission to others,” said Dr. Pinsky.
Illinois is now also mandating new vaccination requirements for other diseases for all public school students in the state.
By the fall, students in kindergarten through high school must prove that they’ve received two doses each for rubella and mumps vaccines.
And those entering kindergarten, sixth, and ninth grades must have had two doses of the chicken pox vaccine.
And for the 2015 school year, all children must have received a dose of the meningitis vaccine.
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