Officials urge public to ‘protect yourself’ against measles
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Officials urge public to ‘protect yourself’ against measles

Measles outbreaks in the United States are higher than they’ve been in recent history, and the symptoms are quite similar to other illnesses people catch during this time of the year.

In 2014, 644 cases of the measles were documented by the Center for Disease Control, with 121 cases reported in 2015. The California Department of Public Health said 39 of the 113 people who recently contracted measles in the state were believed to have been exposed to the disease at Disneyland.

Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist, said the contagious disease spreads easily through airborne droplets.

“Measles, or rubeola, starts with symptoms that include a high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a sore throat. Patients then go on to develop a rash three to five days after the start of the symptoms,” he said. “Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be spread by direct contact, or it can be spread by airborne droplets.”

Kightlinger said people are contracting the disease from unvaccinated individuals.

“When pockets of unvaccinated people travel outside the U.S. and come back to South Dakota, those that are unvaccinated could be at risk,” he said.

Sophomore Cameron Hunt said he is familiar with the virus and why it helps to be vaccinated.

“I am (vaccinated), and I know pretty much only anti-vaccinated people get sick in the United States,” he said.

Hunt said he doesn’t understand why some people are against getting the vaccination.

“Brainwashed or some type of personal or religious vendetta against it,” he said. “Either way, it’s nuts.”

Those who receive the measles vaccine have a good chance of becoming immune to it, said Melissa Shefl, physician’s assistant at Sanford Vermillion.

“By getting a single dose of the measles vaccine, it allows for a 95 percent immunity,” Shefl said.

She said those who become exposed to the virus need to avoid others as much as possible.

“If you receive the MMR vaccine you should be immune to the virus,” she said. “You should quarantine yourself, and stay away from others to protect yourself.”