Michigan fights against measles outbreak

Michigan fights against measles outbreak

Jennifer Ackerman, Staff Writer

  Michigan is currently experiencing an outbreak of measles, the serious disease that was nearly wiped out once the MMR vaccine was introduced in 1963. Since March 13, 43 cases have been identified (primarily in Oakland County). Although 43 cases may sound insignificant, there is reason for concern.

  The Detroit Free Press stated, “Measles is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that is spread by direct person-to-person contact and through the air.”

  Common effects of measles include fever and rash, but the disease can also result in long-term complications, such as pneumonia and swelling of the brain.  These complications could potentially be fatal.

  What makes the situation even more frightening is that there is no treatment for the measles.

  Health experts believe the current measles outbreak was initiated by a traveler from Israel who arrived in Michigan in March.

  “The individual who brought the disease to Michigan suffered from what… is a common misconception: the man, who is in his 40s or 50s, believed that he was immune from the disease because he said he had it when it was younger,” explained ABC News.

  The measles outbreak has drawn attention to the debate about vaccinations.  Some people oppose vaccinating, but the reality is that it is the only sure way to protect against measles.

  The CDC states, “Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States.”

  Lakeview health teacher Amanda Decker described her concern about parents who choose to opt their children out of vaccinations.  She stated that parents often make this choice based off facts from sources that are not reliable.

  Decker expressed, “I think a lot of times, though, people just look at the surface of things.  They look at one study with some rare circumstance where somebody had a negative reaction to a vaccine.”

  In response to the measles outbreak, vaccination clinics have had extended hours in Oakland County and Wayne County, especially in the Orthodox Jewish communities where the outbreak began.

  “The Orthodox Jewish community in Oakland County was very receptive to treating the measles outbreak and having individuals get vaccinated” ABC News reported.

  When asked her opinion on how health departments have handled the situation, Decker responded, “I think they’re doing the best they can.  I think they’re creating awareness. That’s why we’re hearing so much about it.”

  The measles is not treatable, and it is important to remember that it is highly contagious.  In order to slow its spread, people must be informed of its signs and symptoms. The CDC warned that possible signs of the measles include coughing, tiny white spots, and a rash of flat, red spots.

  Decker summarized, “It’s something that’s been essentially eradicated for so long and suddenly we have these cases…it can severely affect somebody you don’t know.”