Local health officials preparing in case of measles outbreak

April 5, 2019

As of today, at least 34 cases of measles have been confirmed in the state of Michigan this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and though all of the confirmed cases are in Oakland (33) and Wayne (1) counties in southeast Michigan, local physicians and healthcare officials are preparing in case the outbreak spreads to this area.

Spectrum Health is placing signage at Ludington Hospital and its medical clinics to help people screen themselves for measles before entering a facility and potentially infecting others.

District Health Department No. 10 is also distributing literature to alert local schools, childcare providers and parents of children who have not received the measles vaccine about the outbreaks that are currently in Michigan and 14 other states.

The best way to prevent contracting the measles virus is through vaccination, according to Spectrum Health pediatrician Dr. Kari Leikert.

“(People) can protect themselves and their children by vaccinating,” Leikert said. “The vaccination is safe and effective.”

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination is administered in two doses, and it is effective within 72 hours of exposure to prevent illness. According to the MDHHS, people cannot get measles from the vaccine, and getting vaccinated does not cause autism.

Leikert said one dose of the MMR vaccination is 93 percent effective in preventing a person from being infected by the virus, and the second dose is 97 percent effective.

Measles is highly contagious and has a long incubation period, which is the time between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms. The virus is spread by person-to-person contact and through the air, and can stay in the air in an area where an infected person has been for up to two hours.

“Measles is one of the most contagious and infectious diseases on the planet,” Morse said. “When someone is ill with measles, they’ll typically infect 12 to 18 people with measles.”

Leikert said there is a risk of not knowingly being exposed to someone who’s carrying the virus.

Symptoms of measles include high fever; cough; runny nose (coryza); and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Though no measles cases have been confirmed in West Michigan, health officials are taking a proactive approach, and encouraging anyone who believes they might have been infected to contact a doctor via phone or the Spectrum MedNow app in order to prevent potentially spreading the disease.

More information about measles is also available at www.michigan.gov/mdhhs and www.cdc.gov.

Read the full story in Friday’s Ludington Daily News print or e-Edition.