LANSING (WWJ) – Michigan health officials have confirmed the states first measles case of 2015 — in Oakland County.
Officials with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) aren’t offering a name or specific city, but they say Michigan’s first cast of the year involves an adult in Oakland County, and may be associated with the recent Disneyland outbreak in California — although an exact connection has not yet been determined.
“As we are seeing with the recent outbreak in California, measles is a highly communicable disease that can affect both children and adults,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH. “The best way to protect our families and communities against measles is to get vaccinated.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Michigan is now one of seven states reporting the disease.
The CDC says measles is a vaccine-preventable respiratory infection that can result in hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. The illness initially presents with a high fever, red eyes, cough, runny nose, photophobia, and is followed by a red, raised body rash starting on the head and face that then progresses to the rest of the body. Because measles is highly communicable, vaccination is the best line of defense, and successful prevention and control requires high levels of immunity in all communities.
Speaking last month to WWJ’s Dr. Deanna Lites, the MDCH’s Dr. Matthew Davis stressed that measles is a serious illness — even deadly in some cases. He said a case of measles can cause very severe medical complications, and can spread quickly.
“Just one case in a school where there are many unvaccinated children can lead to a broad spread measles outbreak,” he said.
While we have effective vaccines against measles and other diseases, Davis said many parents in Michigan are not vaccinating their kids — instead signing vaccination waivers
He said that’s a dangerous heath risk.
“In Michigan we have fewer kids than most states who are up to date on their vaccinations and are protected against diseases that we know vaccines do a good job of preventing,” Davis said.
Davis said that because of exemptions from vaccines, both in Michigan and nationwide, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in cases of both measles as well as Whooping Cough.
“This is not a pattern that we have to see. We have effective vaccines that are safe for our kids to use, and we know they work very well to prevent diseases like Whooping Cough and measles,” he said. “The approach that is effective is in our hands. It’s our decision as parents and communities.”
MDCH continues to coordinate with local health departments to monitor any potential secondary cases in individuals who may have been exposed to the initial case in Oakland County, officials say. Individuals may be contagious for a few days before they present with symptoms, which increases the potential of exposing others to the infection.
[Get complete information on vaccinations from the Michigan Department of Community Health HERE].
Last year, there were a total of five measles cases in Michigan. From 2001 – 2012, the average number of measles cases reported nationally per year was about 60. According to the CDC, last year there were 644 cases in the United States, and the vast majority of cases were among persons who had no history of vaccination against measles. There have been more than 50 cases reported nationally so far in 2015.