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Measles outbreak prompts local readiness plans

Infographic by Lindsay Pincus

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Infographic by Lindsay Pincus

Kristina Martinez

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Following a spike in the number of measles cases across the country, Chico State and Butte County health care officials have prepared for the possibility that the infection may become a problem here.

California is currently experiencing a large outbreak of the contagious viral disease. It started in December at Disneyland when at least 40 people who worked at or visited the park contracted measles, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Measles had previously been largely eradicated in the U.S. because of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

“This is a top priority for public health and is completely preventable,” said Jill Cannaday, nursing supervisor at the Student Health Center.

There are no current cases in Butte County. However, students should be aware of measles and their current vaccination status, Cannaday said.

The MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective with one dose and about 97 percent effective with two doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Personally I’m not worried,” said Jason Morgan, a junior at Chico State. “I’m vaccinated. As a whole I think the whole vaccination situation is kind of selfish of people. Especially when people have kids and are just choosing not to vaccinate them.”

The drop in vaccination rates because of claims that the injections can cause autism has become a major concern for health care specialists, Cannaday said.

“When people stopped (getting vaccinated), it had a chance to come back,” she said. “I think it could be something that comes to any college campus — us included.”

The Student Health Center does have plans in place in case measles were to become a problem at Chico State. Butte County Public Health has worked with the the center in making plans for any kind of emergency, Cannaday said.

If students feels that they might have measles, the center urges students to call in and not come to campus.

Measles is a respiratory disease that is highly contagious and caused by a virus.

The infection can be spread through airborne methods, such as coughing and sneezing. It begins with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, and is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body.

College students who do not have evidence of immunity against measles are recommended to get two doses of the MMR vaccine.

For more information regarding measles, visit the Butte County Public Health or Student Health Center websites.

Kristina Martinez can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Measles outbreak prompts local readiness plans