By RILEY GUERZINI
The Dubois County Health Department is urging residents to be cautious of increased measles activity after receiving multiple phone calls from concerned community members and updates from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Department of Health.
Currently, the state has one confirmed case of measles this year, which was in northern Indiana on April 5.
Measles is an extremely rare, acute, viral illness with early symptoms including fever, cough and conjunctivitis followed by a rash, which spreads from the head to the lower extremities.
Fewer than 1,000 cases are reported each year, according to the CDC.
Measles can result in complications like pneumonia, encephalitis and death.
Most adults are at low risk for measles in non-outbreak areas in the United States. Certain adults, such as students at post-secondary institutions, health care personnel and international travelers are at high risk for acquiring measles. The CDC considers three or more reported cases to be an outbreak.
The number of reported cases of measles in the United States so far this year is 940, the highest since 1994.
There was one reported case in Indiana last year, according to the ISDH.
“Measles is rare in the United States due to the widespread availability of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine,” said Megan Wade-Taxter, media relations specialist at the ISDH. “It was actually declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, however, it is still common in many other countries that have lower vaccination rates.”
The Dubois County Health Department provides vaccination against the measles with the MMR vaccine. Two doses of the vaccine are about 97% effective, while one dose is about 93% effective.
State Health Commissioner Kris Box issued a statewide standing order April 30 giving adults easier access to the MMR vaccine from any pharmacy that carries it.
“Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease, and we want to remove any barriers that may prevent Hoosiers from being protected during this nationwide outbreak,” Box said in a press release. “Even one case of a disease that had largely disappeared is too many, and our hope is that this proactive step will help prevent additional cases in Indiana.”