As of Friday, the St. Francois County community and the state of Missouri reportedly had not yet been directly affected by the extensive measles outbreak Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials say is linked to an original exposure in December at Disney properties in Anaheim, California.
A total of 84 people from 14 states came down with measles between Jan. 1 and Jan. 28, with the majority of the cases connected to the outbreak that reportedly started in California, according to the CDC website.
No measles cases had been documented in 2015 in St. Francois County or in the state of Missouri as of mid-morning on Friday, according to Liz Maserang, communicable disease coordinator for the St. Francois County Health Center.
Maserang said she would be surprised, however, if cases eventually do not pop up locally, especially with the rate of travel throughout the U.S. and abroad.
“We might luck out. We might not see a case at all. I think that’s going to be unlikely,” Maserang said. “I think it would be unlikely that we would end up without any cases. It’s so easy to travel from here to there.”
Maserang said the St. Francois County Health Center, located at 1025 W. Main St., in Park Hills, is offering the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to those who have not been vaccinated according to current health-care recommendations.
It is recommended that children 12 months or older receive one dose of the MMR vaccine and that a second dose be administered after age 4, she said.
It also is recommended that adults born in 1957 or after receive at least one dose of the vaccine, she said. The MMR vaccine is not recommended for those born in 1956 or before, as they likely are immune, she said.
Maserang said those vaccinated as children typically do not need to be re-immunized as adults. That could change in an outbreak situation, she said, adding that at some point it might be recommended that those who received only one dose as children get a second dose.
After receiving one dose of the MMR vaccine, it takes a couple of weeks for the resulting antibodies to begin working, she said. The second dose is to provide lifetime immunity.
Maserang pointed out that immunization against measles is a requirement for children preparing to start school.
The health center can bill most insurance companies. Those who come in for the vaccine should bring their insurance cards.
Those who are uninsured and fit specific criteria can get the MMR vaccine at the health center, she said. Maserang said those without health insurance coverage should call before coming in to make sure they meet the criteria. If they do, there will be no charge for the vaccine, she said.
The health center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For details on measles or vaccination at the health center, call 573-431-1947.
According to the CDC website, measles typically begins with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Two or three days after symptoms first appear, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash appears and the fever can spike to more than 104 degrees. The fever subsides and the rash fades after a few days. Symptoms typically appear roughly seven to 14 days following infection.