Two measles cases have been reported in Sedgwick County, according to a news release Thursday from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Kansas has recorded five cases so far this year, the release said. The cases in Sedgwick County are linked to a recent outbreak in the Kansas City area, where 21 cases have been reported in Kansas City, Mo., this year, said Ryan Hobart, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
One of the cases in Sedgwick County was an adult who had not been vaccinated, and the other an infant too young to be vaccinated.
“We’re wanting people to be aware that measles is highly contagious,” said Aimee Rosenow, a spokeswoman for KDHE. “The best way to protect … is to be vaccinated.”
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Despite the creation of the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), cases have been on the rise nationally in 2014. Since January, 554 measles cases have been reported in 20 states, the release said, which is the highest number since the documented elimination of measles in the U.S. in 2000.
“Since that time it had remained fairly low,” Rosenow said, “and now we’re seeing a resurgence.”
Measles is highly contagious, the release said, and is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing.
“If you haven’t had it, it will find you,” said Thomas Moore, an infectious disease physician with Infectious Disease Consultants in Wichita and the infection control chair at Wesley Medical Center.
So far this year, Moore said he hasn’t seen any confirmed cases of the measles at Wesley, only suspected ones. But of the ones he has seen in previous years, Moore said that “a vaccine is infinitely more preferable to the disease.”
“The adults did very poorly,” he said of the measles cases. “One of them almost died. It’s just not a benign disease.”
People will hopefully take notice of the resurgence, Moore said.
“Just get the vaccine,” he said. “I can’t say it enough. There are people with health conditions who should not receive the vaccine. Those individuals are few and far between.”
Other people don’t get the vaccine because of religious objections, Moore said. Some because of personal objections.
“And that’s unfortunate,” he said, “because the kids are suffering the consequences.”
Symptoms of the disease include fever, blotchy rashes, cough, runny nose and tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth. Infants, children under 5 years old, pregnant women and those with a compromised immune system are most at risk to measles.
Infants between 12 and 15 months receive their first round of the MMR vaccine, Rosenow said, and follow up with a booster shot before kindergarten. If somebody is unsure of their vaccination history, they should check with a health care provider, she said.
For more information on immunization, visit www.cdc.gov.