Published: February 5, 2015
Dear Sonoma County Resident:
As you may have heard, California is currently experiencing a
measles outbreak. Measles infection is caused by a virus which spreads very
easily through the air. Simply being in
the same room with someone who has measles is enough for a vulnerable person to
become infected. Although there are no cases of measles in Sonoma County right
now, because it is so contagious, we should all take steps to prevent and
prepare for measles.
Measles infection starts with fever, cough, runny nose, and
watery eyes. Then a rash develops which lasts about a week. For some individuals, measles can be very
serious – it may cause pneumonia or encephalitis, a serious brain infection. In
the U.S. people can still die from measles; this happens in about 1 to 2 people
per 1,000. Measles illness during
pregnancy can cause early labor, miscarriage, and low birth weight infants. If
you or your child have a fever and a rash contact your health care provider as
soon as possible. Call ahead to let them know your symptoms. If you visit your
health care provider, immediately tell staff about the symptoms so steps can be
taken to limit the spread of germs.
The best way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated. Sonoma County Public Health is urging parents
to check your child’s vaccination records and make sure your child has received
the recommended two doses of MMR (measles mumps and rubella) vaccine. Children should receive their first dose of
MMR at 12-15 months of age and their second dose at age 4-6 years.
If your child has not received the recommended doses of MMR,
contact your health care provider as soon as possible to arrange for catch-up
vaccinations. If you do not have a provider, a list
of community clinics can be found at: www.sonoma-county.org/immunizations.
If you choose not to immunize, you should continue to discuss
with your health care provider the risks of vaccine preventable diseases and
the benefits and risks of vaccines. You should also understand that your
decisions can affect many people and there are important responsibilities you
have to help keep your community healthy. For more information see this
document from the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/patient-ed/conversations/downloads/not-vacc-risks-color-office.pdf).
If you, or other adults in your house, have not been vaccinated
with MMR and have not had measles, please talk to your health care provider,
especially if you are a health care worker, attend college or trade school or
work with babies, children, pregnant women or people with weak immune systems.
Should there be a case of measles in Sonoma County, Public
Health will take steps to limit the spread of disease. This may include asking
or requiring people exposed to the measles virus to stay home.
If you have further questions about
immunizations you can visit these webpages:
Karen Milman, MD, MPH – County Health