Measles have shown up in other states but not Kentucky yet

Published 4:27 pm Monday, March 4, 2024

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Although there have been no confirmed cases of measles in the state this year, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), updated Kentuckians on the response to several measles outbreaks in the United States.

He noted that in the year 2000, the disease was declared to be eradicated in the United States, due to widespread vaccinations.

“For the last nearly two-and-a-half decades, none of us has had to worry about measles, as the only way to get it was to travel to where measles was still spreading,” he said. “Unfortunately, as the measles vaccination rate has decreased, as folks have opted out of vaccination more often, we’re starting to see an increase in the United States.“

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Measles is a highly contagious respiratory virus that spreads through the air. Nationally, in unvaccinated persons who contract measles, at least 1 in 5 is hospitalized, 1 in 20 children develop pneumonia and 1 in 1,000 children suffer brain injury.

Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine are recommended to children starting at 12 months. DPH is working closely with local health departments and clinicians across the state to promote the MMR vaccine.

According to Stack, “Our vaccination rate is now only about 90% for kindergarteners, and it has to be above 95%to stop transmission.”

He said 15 states have already had to deal with measles cases this year, and DPH had to work with the Ohio Department of Health last month, because someone with the diseases traveled through the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport.

“Measles is probably the most contagious viral disease on planet Earth at present,” Stack stated. “The only thing that could maybe compete with it is COVID.”

He also pointed out that once you have had the disease, even if you were not vaccinated, you are highly unlikely to ever get it again.

His message to Kentuckians: “I just want to urge and ask that everybody please get yourselves and your children vaccinated, if you have not already. If you are vaccinated and are exposed, you can continue your normal activities, you don’t have to have any quarantine at home. You don’t have to change your life, whatsoever, because the vaccine is just that effective.”