RIVERSIDE (CNS) - To help residents understand the causes and consequences of measles, the Riverside County Health System today activated an online portal that provides resources connected to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Here in Riverside County, we're fortunate not to have had a confirmed measles case yet, but that hasn't stopped us from taking action,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county's public health officer. “We're working with our local medical providers to make sure they have the latest information on prevention and testing; our laboratory is ramping up to test more `suspect' cases, and all our hospitals and health care facilities are being put on alert.”
The latest federally documented number of measles cases nationwide is 764. According to the CDC, that's the highest national figure in the current century, and the year isn't half over. In 2000, federal health officials had declared measles, like polio, a thing of the past, thanks to vaccinations.
In California, a total 40 measles cases have been reported to date this year in Butte, Los Angeles, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.
The county's new portal -- http://www.rivcoph.org/Measles.aspx -- is intended to address concerns about immunizations and highlight what happens when a person becomes infected with measles.
The illness is highly contagious and spread through coughing, sneezing and other forms of contact. An infected person remains contagious four days before the appearance of a rash and four days after it has covered the body, according to the CDC.
Complications can include ear infections, diarrhea and pneumonia, with severe cases leading to encephalitis, resulting in permanent damage, according to the CDC.
According to the government, foreign travelers who have not been vaccinated are largely responsible for bringing the disease back to U.S. shores.
Kaiser said parents having second thoughts about vaccinating their children should not be carried away by “scary headlines on social media (that) attempt to connect immunizations with autism -- a theory long ago debunked.”
“Let there be no doubt: not only are the risks of vaccination severely overblown, the benefits are just as underplayed,” he said. “Bar none, vaccination is the best way to protect both children and adults from sometimes serious illnesses like measles, chickenpox, mumps and whooping cough.”