Measles making a comeback in the Southeast

Published 4:00 am Saturday, April 27, 2019

In the wake of reports of cases of measles around the country, the concern is moving closer to home. Reports of cases of measles had been reported in the adjoining states of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Then, on Thursday, April 11, a person who was found later to have measles stopped at D&J Travel Plaza in Livingston and later entered Chick-fil-A in Fort Payne to order food.

Dr. Mickey DiChiara of Pike Internal Medicine, said most of the cases of measles reported have been in pockets where people have not been vaccinated for whatever reasons.

However, he said measles are very contagious so it would be wise for those who are uncertain about their vaccine history to check to find when they received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

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“Those who have had measles should have a natural immunity to the disease,” he said. “Those who have had the MMR vaccine, should check to see if they had both shots or just the one. Those who have had only one shot, might want to consider taking a booster. For those who don’t know whether they have had the MMR vaccine, there is a blood test that can be done to test their antibody levels. If their levels are particularly low, they might want to get a booster.”

However, DiChiara said the booster might be the better option because the blood test is rather expensive.

Those who are unsure whether they had one or two shots might check with their doctor. But the MMR vaccine is required for children to enroll in school so the vaccination rate should be high.

However, those who have not had the MMR vaccine or those who are not sure and decide to be vaccinated should check with their  physician’s office to see if the MMR vaccine is available. 

DiChiara said right now his office does not have the vaccine.

Walgreen’s and CVS pharmacies said on Thursday that they did not have the MMR vaccine readily available but could order it.

Dr. Karen Landers, district medical officer, Alabama Department of Public Health said the biggest concern now is those who have not been vaccinated.

“Two doses of the MMR vaccine provide up to 97 percent effectiveness to prevent measles,” Landers said. “One dose provides up to 94 percent effectiveness.”

Measles is very contagious and may live up to two hours  in the air or on surfaces after an infected person cough or sneezes or touches objects, Landers said.

The symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash of red spots.

“The best protection against measles is receiving two doses of MMR vaccine,” she said. “Those who are exposed, not-up-to-date or have unknown MMR vaccine history should contact their doctor or pharmacist to get vaccinated.”