Health officials urge vaccinations after measles cases triple - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Health officials urge vaccinations after measles cases triple

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Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Health officials are concerned after the number of U.S. measles cases has tripled.

The CDC reports measles in 17 states, including a case in Mobile County. Most cases are coming from people who have visited other countries where it's still common, catching the disease and bringing it back to the U-S.

"Measles is a serious, at times, deadly disease," Dr. Stephen Russell said.

Russell works at UAB Health Center in Moody. He says the cases are growing at an alarming rate. The symptoms are not easy to deal with.

"People would be presented with a fever, with a rash, very uncomfortable," Russell said.

He says what's scary is how easily the disease spreads.

"Droplets that contain measles can stay in the air for up to two hours after a patient leaves that room. Meaning anyone who comes in contact within that airspace of someone infected can be affected," Russell said.

He says in the last five years there have been more cases of it in the U.S. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, historically there have been 60 reported cases of measles in the U.S. each year. In 2013, that number more than tripled to 189 cases. And so far in 2014, there have been 187 cases reported nationally.

Russell says parents need to make sure their children are protected because kids under five are among those most susceptible.

"For all children one year of age or greater should be getting their first vaccination. For all children going into kindergarten they should have had their second vaccination," Russell said.

While adults who haven't been vaccinated are urged to get it, especially traveling overseas, Dr. Karen Landers with the State Department of Health says some people may not need the vaccine.

"Historically people born prior to 1957 should have natural immunity. Ninety plus percent of people developed the disease prior to time of vaccination. The vaccination came in mid to late 60's. So, many people should have been vaccinated during that time," Landers said.

Adults over 65 and pregnant women are susceptible to the disease as well.

If you're an adult and you don't know if you've had the vaccine, your doctor can run a blood test to determine if you have been vaccinated.

To learn more about the measles and vaccinations, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/measles/

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