Measles: Symptoms and prevention

Measles: Symptoms and prevention

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The measles are now stretching across state lines, and the resurgence of this infectious disease is taking some doctors by surprise.

It's forced students out of school and closed doctors offices. The most recent outbreak started at Disneyland, then spread to at least six other states.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a health alert, letting us know the measles are on the move growing to nearly 100 cases since last month.

There have been no cases reported in South Carolina, according to the Department of Health. DHEC was unable to find any instances of measles in the Palmetto State as far back as 1999.

The problems with the measles are: it's deadly, and it may be hard for doctors to diagnose. In the early stages it just looks like a common cold, so you could have a fever, cough and just feel down. That's when it's contagious. Then, two to four days later, it's followed by a rash.

The measles can lead to pneumonia or even death.

"You can have the early stages of measles, not realize you have it, go to see a movie, cough once, leave at the end of the movie and the next people come to the movie theater, an hour and a half, two hours later can all be infected now if they're not protected from the virus,” said Dr. Jon Pangia of Grand Strand Medical Center. “It's that infectious.”

The disease was just about eliminated from our this country in 2000, which is why its return is so alarming for those in the medical field.

“I don't know any doctors who have even seen one case of measles in their life and I've been in practice for 10 years, I have never seen measles it's gonna be very hard to catch when and if it comes to our area,” Pangia said.

He said the best way to protect yourself and your family from the measles is to get vaccinated. In fact, the majority of the people who get the measles are not vaccinated, according to the CDC.

During the most recent outbreak at Disneyland, only a handful of the more than 50 people could confirm they had the shot. This is why doctors urge everyone to get vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

Children are the most at risk, however, the recent outbreak includes people as old as 57 years of age getting sick from the measles.

The CDC warns that people who travel internationally or go frequently to places like Disneyland should keep an extra eye on the spread of the disease.

"There are countries where measles is still active and unvaccinated travelers returning from one of these countries could become infected and bring measles back to the US," said Jim Beasley with DHEC. "The concern for outbreaks is related to transmission to people in the community who are not adequately vaccinated."

You can start the first dose as early as 1 year old. It is also recommended adults around the age of 40 get an updated shot.

Dr. Pangia said, there's a trend, especially in California, to not vaccinate your kids, which adds to the spread of the disease.

"There are plenty of children here that do not get vaccinated just because the parents are scared of the vaccine, unfortunately not realizing the scarier thing to do is not vaccinate their children," he said.

CDC studies back their claim the shot is safe, saying most children who get the vaccine do not have any problems.

The good news is, Horry County Schools require all students get the measles vaccine unless they have a religious exemption. They did not give a number of how many kids have gotten the shot, but that overall our immunization rate is very good.

If you want to get the shot, the hospital does not offer it, that includes Grand Strand Medical Center and Conway Medical Center, both saying, you have to go to your primary care physician.

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