Two hundred and eighty-eight people were sick with measles in the United States between Jan. 1 and May 23, 2014. This is the largest number of people ill with measles in the United States reported in the first five months of a year since 1994. In Wisconsin there have been two people with measles. Both were connected to traveling outside of the United States. There has been no one with measles in Lincoln County.
“The increase in people ill with measles is being driven by unvaccinated people, mostly U.S. residents, who got measles in other countries, brought the virus back to the United States and then spread it to others in communities where many people are not vaccinated,” said Mindy Schwarz, Public Health Nurse for Lincoln County Health Department. “Measles is not the only vaccine preventable disease we are seeing on the rise; currently there are 47 people sickened with mumps in Wisconsin.”
Of the 288 people with measles, 280 (97 percent) were connected with foreign travel from at least 18 countries. More than one in seven was hospitalized. Ninety percent of all people sick with measles in the United States were not vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown.
Measles is a serious lung disease that is highly contagious. A person with measles can spread the disease even before they know they have it. A person can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even after that person is gone. Anyone who is not protected against the disease is at risk, especially if they travel internationally.
The large number of people with measles and mumps this year stresses the importance of vaccination. Timely vaccination is the best way to prevent measles. The Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) shot is recommended for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1957; those born before 1957 are considered protected. Some individuals may need one dose, while others need two. Call your health care provider or the Lincoln County Health Department at 715-536-0307 to see if you need this vaccine.
To find more information about vaccine preventable diseases visit http://lincolncountyhealthdepartment.com/; you can also find the Lincoln County Health Department on Facebook