BOONE — While no measles cases have been identified in North Carolina in 2019, AppHealthCare is asking residents to make sure to get their vaccinations as the disease is making a comeback in the U.S.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 981 cases of measles have been confirmed in 26 states from Jan. 1 to May 31,” AppHealthCare said in a statement. “This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was declared eliminated in 2000. Among all measles patients, 90 percent were unvaccinated.”
AppHealthCare is working with Watauga County Schools to spread the word to prevent a possible outbreak.
“We encourage everyone to know their vaccination history,” said Jennifer Greene, health director at AppHealthCare. “This can be provided by our office or your health care provider. Prevention through immunization is the most important way for us to protect our families and our community from the spread of measles.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no link to autism and vaccines.
“If you are not sure of your vaccination status, contact AppHealthCare or your health care provider,” AppHealthCare stated.
“Please, don’t let cost be a barrier to your child being protected,” Greene stated. “If you want to learn more, call your local AppHealthCare office or your health care provider.”
Measles is a respiratory disease that causes a rash and fever. In rare cases, it can be deadly.
“Measles is a highly contagious virus that can be spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with respiratory secretions of an infected person,” AppHealthCare stated. “The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.”
WCS head nurse Shelly Klutz said her department has been vigilant in their assessments of students who aren’t feeling well.
“Students spend over six hours a day in close proximity with each other which can increase the risk of transmitting contagious illnesses,” said Shelly Klutz, head nurse for Watauga County Schools. “We feel the best way to protect our students, faculty, staff and visitors is to encourage everyone to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.
Klutz added that WCS school nurses monitor immunization compliance as students enroll in school for the first time and as additional vaccines and boosters are needed.
“We provide education to parents of students who may be missing immunizations, provide resources and work with them on a catch up,” Klutz stated. “Our main priority is to protect all students, faculty, staff and visitors within our school system.”
According to ARHS, recent outbreaks are linked to unvaccinated travelers infected with measles who brought measles back to the United States from other countries where large measles outbreaks are occurring.
“When measles is brought into an under-vaccinated community it becomes difficult to control the spread of the disease,” AppHealthCare stated.
Vaccination with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is the best way to protect against measles.
“One dose of measles-containing vaccine administered at age 12 months or older is approximately 93 percent effective and two doses of measles-containing vaccine is more than 97 percent effective,” AppHealthCare states. “We are working closely with state and local partners to monitor the measles outbreaks and prepare.”
Measles cases and outbreaks in the U.S. can be found at www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html. Resources for vaccines conversations can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/index.html.
For additional information about AppHealthCare or other community resources and health related data, call their county offices at: Alleghany (336) 372-5641, Ashe (336) 246-9449 or Watauga (828) 264-4995, or visit its website at www.apphealthcare.com.