Preventing a measles outbreak in the Valley with fewer vaccinated people

Local News

The number of measles cases is rising and doctors nationwide are trying to prevent outbreaks. What risk is there of an outbreak in the Valley?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 314 cases reported across the country so far in 2019. The CDC is currently watching six outbreaks — two of those in the state of New York.

Symptoms generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected, according to the CDC. It typically begins with high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.

Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth.

Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out, usually beginning as flat, red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet. Small, raised bumps may also appear on top of the spots.

Doctors constantly have to educate people on the truth about vaccines, especially when it comes to the measles.

“I know you’ve probably heard rumors about the side effects of vaccines,” Dr. Cindy Kravec said. “From a medical standpoint, the reality is that it’s not what you are reading on social media.”

She said it’s become an important part of their work.

“It’s our job as providers, as physicians, to educate the patients on what the data really says. That vaccines, in most instances, are helpful — not harmful. That side effects are mainly mild and there is no evidence, especially in children, that vaccines cause autism.”

But misleading information is out there. Right now in Mahoning County, the vaccination rate for measles is around 85 percent.

That can lead to outbreaks like the one in Rockland County, New York, where unvaccinated people are now banned from public places — at least until the outbreak is over.

Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Venglarcik said people don’t understand the risks of measles.

“Let’s get crystal clear about this — if you get the measles, there is a chance you will die.”

He said the measles can spread through the air and the germs left by one sick person can hang out in the air for up to two hours, spreading rapidly.

Travelers on Interstate 80 would be the perfect transmission route, too.

“I hope that we don’t see a case, but I’m not going to be the least bit surprised if we do,” Venglarcik said.

Since the last local measles outbreak was almost 30 years ago, many doctors may not immediately recognize the disease when it arrives.

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