By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has received reports of two confirmed measles cases in eastern Nebraska within the last week.
Both cases are in the Three Rivers Public Heath Department District that covers Washington, Dodge and Saunders counties. One of the cases is linked to the Disneyland measles outbreak.
No cases have been reported in Chase County.
“Measles is a highly contagious disease and it is possible we will see additional cases in Nebraska,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS.
Those most at risk of being infected with the measles are people who have had no doses or only one dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine or who have not had the measles.
Public health officials stress that it’s good for all Nebraskans to know if they have measles immunity. A person is considered immune if they have two doses of vaccine or were born before 1957.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children get two doses of MMR vaccine. The first dose is given between 12 and 15 months of age, while the second dose is given between four and six years of age.
However, there are parents who chose not to have their children immunized.
“There’s a big hype out there,” said Chase County Schools Nurse Angie Paisley, “that they think MMR causes autism. Some people truly believe this, although the American Medical Association said this” isn’t true.
Parents may opt to sign either a personal/religious belief waiver or have a doctor’s medical waiver to not have their child immunized.
Paisley said there are “very few” students at CCS who have a personal/religious belief waiver.
Maria Murillo, a medical aide at Chase County Clinic, said it’s the parents’ choice concerning a waiver. She said clinic personnel talk to the parents about why vaccinations are important, and give them a vaccine information sheet.
“We can’t force immunizations upon them,” she stated, adding that some parents decide not to get the vaccinations, including MMR, chicken pox and influenza.
Murillo noted that it’s important for children and pregnant women to be immunized, because they can become infected by family members.
A check with preschools in Imperial determined that they require an immunization record when a child is admitted.
At Rainbow Promise Preschool, if there is no record, a signed, notarized release must be given.
At the Imperial Manor preschool, parents who don’t have releases will be directed to the administration for consultation.
Paisley said there have been no cases of measles at the school. However, according to Nebraska law, she said no child who has the measles will be allowed back in school for the incubation period, or up to 20 days.
Measles spread through the air through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of measles generally begin within seven to 14 days after exposure and usually in about 10 days.
It starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat and is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body.
It can also cause severe complications like pneumonia and encephalitis.
Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, thanks to vaccination.
However, cases continue to crop up.
According to the CDC, because the U.S. is a mobile society, many times measles are brought into the U.S. when people visit from other countries or when unvaccinated Americans get measles while traveling abroad.
Prior to the creation of a vaccine in 1963, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years old.
MMR vaccinations may be obtained at Chase County Clinic. However, a parent must make an appointment and provide an immunization record.
The next monthly shot clinic is Feb. 14 at the Chase County Community Hospital, where both children and adults may receive an MMR shot if they are uninsured. The clinic begins at 9:15 a.m.
Whooping cough cases are on the rise in eastern and southeastern Nebraska. Some other areas of the state also have confirmed cases. State health officials stress the need for Nebraskans to remain vigilant when it comes to vaccination.
“There were more than 200 whooping cough cases in January which is higher than some of our total case numbers for previous years and that’s concerning,” said Dr. Acierno.
“Parents should check their children’s vaccination records as well as their own to make sure everyone is protected.”
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious disease marked by severe coughing. It’s caused by bacteria found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person. Whooping cough is spread through close contact when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Children are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough as part of a five-shot series. Children usually receive doses at two, four and six months old, a fourth dose at 15-18 months old and the fifth dose prior to entering school
Nebraska law also requires proof of a whooping cough booster shot before entering seventh grade.