By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The CDC is reporting a high number of measles cases nationwide so far this year, but no cases have been reported in Cherokee according to officials at the Cherokee Indian Hospital. The CDC reports, “This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000, second only to the 667 cases reported during all of 2014.” So far in 2019, a total of 626 cases have been reported nationwide as of Friday, April 19.
Measles has been reported in 2019 in 22 states with North Carolina being spared so far. The CDC states that the spread of measles is from a combination of people traveling to areas where the disease is prevalent combined with areas in the United States where people are unvaccinated.
Sally Penick, Cherokee Indian Hospital infection control manager, states, “Our pediatric department works very hard to make sure children get their immunizations for the measles. Many times, in areas where outbreaks occur, there are schools or day cares that do not require the vaccines. There are individuals who do not want their children vaccinated due to religious or health care beliefs.”
She added, “You can protect a child against measles with a combination vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MBR). It is a series of two doses at ages 12-15 months and 4-6 years.”
The Cherokee Indian Hospital is taking precautions for its employees and patients. Penick notes, “All of our employees are required on employment to provide proof of immunization or a test (titer) that shows immunity. We encourage each community member to make sure they have had all their immunizations which are provided in the Outpatient clinics. Always remember, handwashing or the use of hand sanitizer can prevent the spread of the measles and other diseases.”
On measles, the CDC states, “Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads to others through coughing and sneezing. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90 percent of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. Measles starts with a high fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can be serious. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death.”
Although some cases are reported each year, the CDC declared measles eliminated (“absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months”) in 2000.