Measles cases have been reported in neighboring Butte and Tehama counties, but as of May 2, there have been no cases reported in Plumas County. Still, there is a lot of interest in the disease among area residents.
“We are receiving a lot of calls from concerned community members,” said Andrew Woodruff, director of the Plumas County Public Health Agency.
The health agency is sharing a lot of information, but is encouraging those who need the measles vaccine to visit their health care providers.
Tina Venable, the agency’s director of nursing, has fielded a number of calls and said that the agency has seen an increase in mothers wanting to vaccinate their children.
She explained that the current protocol is for two doses of the vaccine. The initial dose is given when a child reaches the age of 1, but if there were to be an outbreak, the dose can be given at a younger age.
The groups that are at greatest risk from the measles are the very young, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women.
She said that many adults aren’t sure if they have been vaccinated. The rule of thumb has been that if you were born before 1957, you likely had the disease and are therefore immune. For those born after 1957, they must rely on parents’ recollections of whether they had the measles or if they were innoculated at some point later in their lives. There is a blood test that can be administered to check to see if an individual is immune, and again, those who aren’t sure should contact their physician.
Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. It can cause serious illness, or even death, in young children.
The virus lives in mucus in the nose and throat of the infected person. When that person sneezes or coughs, droplets spray into the air. The droplets can get into other people’s noses or throats when they breathe or put their fingers in their mouth or nose after touching an infected surface. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person, who are not immune,will become infected.
Measles vaccine, which is given in combination with rubella and mumps vaccine (MMR), is effective and safe, according to the health agency. Public Health has a limited amount of vaccine available.
According to the health agency, some people will still get the measles even if vaccinated, but fully vaccinated people who get measles are much more likely to have a milder illness, and they are also less likely to spread the disease to other people.
“We encourage individuals to stay up to date with their immunizations, as the MMR vaccine is one of the most highly effective vaccines given,” said Dr. Mark Satterfield, Plumas County Health Officer.
For more information, contact your healthcare provider or Plumas County Public Health Agency at 283-6330 or 800-801-6330.