(Placerville, CA) - With several measles cases currently being investigated across four Northern California counties (Shasta, Butte, Tehama and Placer), health officials are reminding individuals to take precautions. "One of the best ways to prevent measles is to ensure that you are up-to-date on vaccinations," advised El Dorado County Public Health Officer, Dr. Nancy Williams. "If you suspect that you have measles, consult with your healthcare provider and stay home if you are sick so that you don't expose others."
From January 1 to March 29, 2019, 16 measles cases have been reported in California, according to the California Department of Public Health. Two outbreaks of measles have occurred, both of which were linked to international travel followed by transmission in California. As of March 31, 2019, El Dorado County health officials are not aware of any local measles cases.
Measles is highly contagious and spread through the air from coughs and sneezes. Measles usually begins with a fever that lasts a couple of days, followed by a cough, runny nose, pink eye, and rash. The rash typically appears on the face, hairline, and behind the ears, and then affects the rest of the body. Infected people are usually contagious from about four days before the rash starts to four days afterwards. Most people fully recover from measles, although complications, such as ear infections or pneumonia, can occur. Deaths related to measles are uncommon in the United States.
"If you think that you or your child may have measles, do not seek medical care without calling the clinic first and telling them you're concerned about measles," advised Williams. "The clinic should give you specific instructions on when and where you should go for the exam so you won't expose other people in the clinic."
Measles was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but cases still occur when travelers who have not been immunized with the measles (MMR) vaccine are exposed to the measles virus in another country and return home with the infection. Anyone who is not immunized should consider avoiding international travel or at least be extremely careful to avoid contact with other unimmunized people if they develop illness upon returning to the U.S.
Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended to protect against measles. Most healthcare providers offer the vaccine. The El Dorado County Public Health Division also offers low and no-cost childhood vaccinations, including the measles vaccine, for children who do not have health insurance, are under-insured or who are on Medi-Cal. For information about Public Health Clinical Services call (530) 621-6100 in Placerville or (530) 573-3155 in South Lake Tahoe.
For more information about measles, visit the California Department of Public Health website: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/measles.aspx
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