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Measles numbers alarming, CDC doctor says

6/19/2014

Charleston Gazette
By Lydia Nuzum
June 17, 2014

Eighty-five percent of West Virginia’s toddlers are vaccinated against measles — but the far more important number is the 15 percent who are not, a federal health official said Tuesday.

The U.S. is experiencing a measles outbreak, and more than 300 cases have been reported in neighboring Ohio this year. For Dr. Anne Schuchat, an assistant U.S. surgeon general and the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the problem lies with poor vaccination rates: The fewer who are vaccinated against a disease within a population, the more likely a widespread outbreak can occur.

“In West Virginia, with 15 percent of toddlers without the [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccine, that’s enough young children where you could have an outbreak that would be difficult to control,” she said.

Schuchat was in Charleston Tuesday as the keynote speaker for Immunization Summit 2014, a conference of more than 250 attendees, including nurses, doctors, health-care providers, state health officials and public partners gathered to explore strategies for increased vaccination rates for all age groups.

The two-day event, now in its fifth year, is being held in conjunction with KidStrong, an education conference coordinated by the state Department of Education and designed to find ways of improving overall wellness for schoolchildren. Attendees to both conferences are welcome to attend sessions and speeches interchangeably, according to Elaine Darling, program manager for the West Virginia Immunization Network, which organized the event.

Measles is an infection of the respiratory system, immune system and skin. In addition to the infamous spotty skin rash, symptoms include lethargy, fever, severe cough and sinus drainage. To read the full article, click here.

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