Measles cases at 24-year peak

Of­fi­cials stress need for vac­ci­na­tions amid Mich. up­swing

The Detroit News - - News - As­so­ci­ated Press Staff Writ­ers Sarah Ra­hal and Leonard N. Flem­ing con­tributed.

Lans­ing — Health of­fi­cials are urg­ing peo­ple to get vac­ci­nated and take other pre­cau­tions af­ter con­firm­ing 15 cases of measles in Michi­gan this year.

The Michi­gan Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices gave an up­date Fri­day, say­ing it’s the high­est level the state has seen since 1994, when 26 cases were re­ported.

“The in­creases in measles cases be­ing re­ported drives home the im­por­tance of be­ing up-to-date on vac­cines,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS’ chief med­i­cal ex­ec­u­tive. “Im­mu­niza­tions are the best way to pro­tect our fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties from the harm­ful, some­times deadly con­se­quences of vac­cinepre­ventable dis­eases like measles.”

Ear­lier this week, the Oak­land County Health Divi­sion said two Oak­land County res­i­dents with the dis­ease ar­rived on a flight at Detroit Met­ro­pol­i­tan Air­port in Ro­mu­lus the evening of Oct. 23.

Michi­gan’s first case of measles in 2018 was also con­firmed in a pa­tient who was at Detroit Metro on March 6. Dr. Rus­sell Faust, Oak­land County’s med­i­cal di­rec­tor, said the county has had three cases of measles this year.

Measles is spread by di­rect per­son-to-per­son con­tact, and through the air by a con­ta­gious per­son sneez­ing or cough­ing, the health depart­ment said. The virus can live for up to two hours in the air where the in­fected per­son coughed or sneezed.

Health of­fi­cials note measles is a highly con­ta­gious ill­ness and vac­ci­na­tions are an ef­fec­tive way to pre­vent it. If ex­posed, ap­prox­i­mately 90 per­cent of peo­ple who have not been vac­ci­nated or pre­vi­ously had measles will de­velop the dis­ease, Faust said.

“It doesn’t do as well on sur­faces as it does in the air,” Faust said Tues­day. “... Any­one who may sus­pect they have measles, its cru­cial for them to call ahead rather than go­ing to the clinic.”

Symp­toms of measles can ap­pear up to 21 days af­ter ex­po­sure and may in­clude a high fever; cough; runny nose; red, wa­tery eyes; and tiny white spots on the in­ner cheeks, gums and roof of the mouth.

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