LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has confirmed that there are laboratory results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirming that at least two of the original three suspected cases of measles in Gentry are positive.
According to Gary Wheeler, MD, Branch Director of the Infectious Disease Branch at ADH, these results were expected, based on the first medical examinations.
"The message is very clear-immunizations are important for protection of the individual. They are also important protection for the community," Wheeler said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measles (also known as rubeola) is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Families, college students, military recruits and others living in close quarters who are not vaccinated or immune from past infection are at very high risk of contracting the disease. Others who have less contact are still at risk if exposed to coughing or respiratory secretions.
Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and a rash all over the body. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and one out of 20 develops pneumonia. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die. Measles can potentially cause a pregnant woman to miscarry or give birth prematurely. Those whose immune systems are compromised by chronic disease, chemo-therapy or other causes are also at risk for serious illness. The Arkansas Department of Health urges that any Arkansan or visitor to the state that has not been vaccinated for measles receive vaccine from a doctor or at any local health unit statewide.
Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. Each year in the United States, about 450-500 people died because of measles, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness. Currently, measles is rarely seen in the United States but is fairly widespread in many foreign countries. Today, there are roughly 50 cases a year
reported in the United States, and most of these originate outside the country. In Arkansas, the ADH reported two cases in 2008 and one case earlier this year.
Measles is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people or, less frequently, by airborne transmission. Measles is one of the most easily transmitted communicable diseases.
For more information on measles, click on www.healthy.arkansas.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/measles/.