Measles outbreak threatens country, Mississippi safe so far

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2015

In December, an outbreak of measles began at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif. Since then, 102 cases have been reported in more than 14 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mississippi State Department of Health Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said no cases of the virus have been reported in the state, which could be attributed to the strong vaccination requirements set in place in Mississippi.

“Mississippi and West Virginia are the only states that don’t offer any religious or philosophical exemptions for the vaccine,” Dobbs said. “Because Mississippi doesn’t have too many exemptions, we have good immunization rates, which has protected us.”

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Mississippi allows only for the exemption of children for valid medical reasons, Dobbs said.

While Mississippi doesn’t have any reported cases, Dobbs said the department is taking the outbreak seriously.

“Last year, there were more than 600 cases of measles in the country. So far, there have already been more than 100 cases of measles this year,” he said. “If something does happen in Mississippi, which we hope it doesn’t, we will have to make sure those who become sick stay home, like California has been doing.”

According to the CDC, measles is a very contagious disease and can stay in the air long after the infected person has left the vicinity.

Dobbs suggested ways Mississippians can protect themselves, especially when traveling to another state or country.

“The measles is very contagious. If you’re not sure you’ve had the vaccination, get it and give it a couple of weeks after immunization to be protected before traveling,” Dobbs said.

He also said that young children less than 6 months of age aren’t able to receive the vaccination, so he cautions parents to protect their infants, especially if traveling.

Recently, President Barack Obama urged parents to get their children vaccinated in an interview on NBC’s Today Show.

While some groups have spoken out about the alleged link between the vaccine and autism, which was found in a study conducted in Denmark, studies done by the CDC have shown no link between the two.

Dobbs said the general consensus in the medical community is that the vaccination has been proven to benefit both children and adults.

“The vaccine has shown to be 99 percent effective and safe,” he said. “Not only does the vaccination help, it also prevents the virus from spreading from one person to another.”