by CHRIS ROGERS
So far, so good. As of Monday, there were no new cases of measles reported since a traveller carrying the disease stopped in Winona, Centerville, and Galesville earlier last month.
Last week, the state health departments in Minnesota and Wisconsin warned that a contagious traveller with the measles stopped at the downtown McDonald’s restaurant in Winona in the afternoon of April 13, at Beedles Bar and Restaurant in Centerville that evening, and at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Galesville and Champions Riverside Resort in Galesville on April 15. Health officials warned people who had visited those locations at those times to watch for signs of a measles infection, and contact a doctor right away if they noticed symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body.” People who have the measles are urged to avoid contact with other people while they are contagious.
Measles is a virus spread by coughing and sneezing. There is no treatment for measles, and while most people recover, measles can be serious or even fatal for small children, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The risk is not over. Once someone is infected, it takes around two weeks for symptoms to show up, according to the Mayo Clinic. So the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is continuing to monitor closely for more cases until May 7. “If we don’t have any cases after that, we more than likely won’t,” MDH Information Officer Doug Schultz explained. “We still have a little ways to go, so we’re keeping our eyes and ears open.”
Most people born before 1957 had measles as children, and are likely to be immune from new infections, according to the MDH. Since 1957, most children have been vaccinated for measles. The vaccine is 97-percent effective. However, not everyone is vaccinated. Some children cannot be safely vaccinated because they have compromised immune systems and some parents choose to not vaccinate their children, Schultz explained. Ironically, the recent measles exposure was discovered and announced during National Infant Immunization Week and just after Winona Health Pediatrician Sarah Lallaman, in a guest column, expressed frustration with the persistence of anti-vaccine sentiments despite evidence of the safety and importance of immunizations.
People may check whether they have been immunized by asking their care provider or contacting the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection at 651-201-3980. The MDH advised people who believe they were in the same places at the same times as the infected traveller and are unsure if they are protected through immunization or natural immunity to consult their health care provider.