Health officials warning of measles in Central Vermont
East Barre, Vermont - June 21, 2011
Measles had not been detected in Vermont for a decade until now; one case earlier this month and another that hasn't yet been confirmed by lab results, but health officials say is likely. And they've issued a measles alert for central Vermont.
Adam Chase of Barre said, "There was a lot of people there, so they are going to have to get checked out."
Last Sunday the East Barre Fire Department parking lot was filled for the annual barbecue. Today it is seen as a possible exposure site for measles. State officials are warning any unvaccinated people who were at Sunday's barbecue or visited the McDonald's in Berlin between 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday to call their doctor.
Adam Chase added, "I don't know the symptoms or anything, but no one I knew, knew anything about that."
Chase was at the barbecue, he says there were more than 100 people at the event.
"There were a lot of younger kids there, way more adults, but probably 20 kids."
Patsy Kelso, an epidemiologist with the Vermont Health Department, explained, "Measles is one of the most infectious diseases that there is. You can get measles if you are in the same room as someone who had it two hours after they left the room. The measles virus could still be in the air in the room."
On Tuesday the Health Department sent out an alert saying a young child in Washington county is believed to have the measles.
Three weeks ago lab tests confirmed an unvaccinated adult in southeastern Vermont had the first case of measles in the state in 10 years, but with ongoing outbreaks in Albany, N.Y., Boston, and Quebec, officials say they do not believe the Vermont cases are connected.
Doctors say the symptoms are similar to the common cold at first.
"A rash, fever, runny nose, cough. Most people recover, but in a small percentage of cases it can cause complications or even death," Kelso explained.
In Vermont health officials say 92 percent of children are vaccinated, but say a 95 percent vaccination level is seen as the goal to prevent disease outbreaks. Nationally about 90 percent of children are vaccinated.
Doctors say people born before 1957 are safe because they have already been exposed to measles, but anyone else should call for a vaccine if they think they have been exposed.
Kelso said, "People who get the measles vaccine within three days of exposure-- the vaccine can still prevent illness from that exposure. If it has been more than three days it probably is not effective."
Tyler Chase of East Barre said, "It has been a while since the last outbreak, and not hearing very often of it, it's pretty wild."
Chase say news like this in a small town is concerning and he wants to check his medical records.
Chase added, "Not recently, and I do not know if I had one as a kid, but I have not gotten one and I may be talking to my doctor and perhaps getting one."
Dr. Kelso says the measles virus is unlike the flu virus in the sense that the flu changes and swaps components annually, causing need for a new vaccine every year. The measles is not like that; once you have had your Measles, Mumps and Rubella shot or MMR you should be immune.
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