Health officials keep eye out for possible measles cases

Local health officials encourage parents to have their children vaccinated for mealses.

Local health officials encourage parents to have their children vaccinated for mealses.

With more than 100 cases of reported measles popping up around the United States, local health officials assured Churchill County residents the community is taking necessary precautions.

Results involving a 16-month-old toddler who showed possible symptoms have not returned from the Centers of Disease Control said the county’s health officer, Dr. Tedd McDonald, on Tuesday. Last week, the Churchill County child had symptoms consistent with measles.

The mother, Christy Mullins, told KOLO-TV that state health officials quarantined her daughter home earlier last week after her child developed a fever and other symptoms of measles that the mother initially thought were signs of the flu.

The next day, she took the child to a doctor where she tested negative for flu and Enterovirus.

Mullins said her daughter had her first measles vaccination shot and isn’t due for her second one until she is 4 or 5 years old. Mullins said her daughter no longer has the symptoms.

“We’re still in the holding pattern,” said McDonald regarding the results.

He said the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta will conduct several tests. McDonald, though, said plenty of the measles vaccine is available in Churchill County.

According to Dr. Victor Azzad, medical epidemiologist for the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, though, his division is treating the toddler’s symptoms within a combination of three categories — suspected, concerned and probable.

“A suspected case wouldn’t change the response for the community,” Azzad added. “Vaccines are very effective in controlling this measles outbreak.”

If an individual falls within the three aforementioned categories, Azzad said the individual must stay home since measles is a communicable disease.

The current outbreak has involved 121 possible measles cases from 15 states that were reported to the CDC. Most of those are part of the large, ongoing multistate measles outbreak that initially started in California.

The chief nurse for the Churchill County School District said about 99 percent of the students have had their MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines. Stephanie Utz said only those who can show a religious or medical reason are excluded from the vaccines but the state’s DPBH make that determination.

“Students who enter CCSD schools must have vaccinations for polio, TDAP (tetanus-diphtheria-acelluar pertussis), MMR, hepatitis A and B and chicken pox (varicella),” Utz said.

At Naval Air Station Fallon, spokesman Zip Upham said the base’s health clinic has been in constant communication with local and state health officials.

“Now that various states are reporting measles outbreaks, Banner Health urges people in our communities to get vaccinated, if they haven’t done so already, to prevent getting this highly infectious, potentially deadly disease,” said Banner Health spokeswoman Sara Quale. “Those who are not immunized are at risk of getting the disease – particularly infants, cancer patients and those with a weak immune system.”

According to Banner Health, measles is a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease that can be prevented through vaccination. Its complications may include pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and deafness. Pregnant women who develop measles may give birth prematurely or deliver low-birth-weight babies.

Once common in the United States, measles was eliminated in this country in 2000 but has returned.

Banner Health said every child should be vaccinated against the measles. Children who are not vaccinated increase the risk of infection for infants under age 12 months, cancer patients and those with weak immune systems.

“Our health care providers, most of whom are parents themselves, have studied the scientific literature regarding vaccine safety and believe that there is no good evidence linking the measles vaccine to developmental disorders such as autism,” said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, vice president of Continuum Management for Banner Health.

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