TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – So far this year, 288 cases of measles have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control. That’s the highest number in 20 years.
“Measles can spread from person to person,” said IU Health Arnett Infectious Disease Dr. Thomas Meyer. “So, someone gets measles and other people aren’t vaccinated, that’s how an outbreak occurs.”
Measles, a contagious disease often characterized by a fever and extreme rash, has been around for quite some time. In fact, the CDC said the first reported case dates all the way back to the Ninth Century.
While the vaccine was licensed for use back in the 1960s, Meyer said many still aren’t vaccinated.
“Ninety percent of the people in these outbreaks this year are either not vaccinated, or they don’t know if they were vaccinated as a child,” said Meyer.
In fact, this latest outbreak is thought to be linked to a group of Amish residents who traveled overseas to the Philippines. CDC officials said Amish communities don’t believe in being vaccinated, and in the Philippines, measles runs rampant.
“It just shows with foreign travel and more people being not vaccinated that this is probably going to continue to be a problem,” Meyer said.
Now, most children receive their series of vaccinations before they’re allowed to attend Kindergarten.
Public Health Nurse Elizabeth Vanlaere said many adults can’t remember if they’ve received the vaccine.
“If you were born before 1957, typically that is considered immune, even if you haven’t had the vaccination,” said Vanlaere.
According to Vanlaere, that’s because those people have most likely already been exposed.
Yet, measles isn’t something to play around with. Both Vanlaere and Meyer said it only takes a sneeze or cough from an infected person, to spread it to someone else.
“Getting vaccinated is key to protecting you and your family,” Meyer said.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, Vanlaere said the Tippecanoe County Health Department has plenty of measles vaccines available. The county health department is located at 629 N. Sixth St., Suite A, in Lafayette.