For the first time in eight years Monday, Iowa reported a case of measles.
Iowa Department of Public Health Communications Director Polly Carver-Kimm said she could not identify where the case was reported beyond that it was in northeast Iowa. The case does not constitute a public health emergency at this time, she said.
While no cases of measles have been discovered in Rock Island County during this fiscal year, several investigations have been prompted by health care providers.
“Measles was considered eradicated not that long ago, and now we’re having this resurgence because people are incorrectly informed regarding vaccinations,” Rock Island County Department of Health Chief Operating Officer Janet Hill said.
In Scott County, immunization status is recorded through child care until a child reaches kindergarten. “So if the child doesn’t attend the child care, then we don’t know their immunization status,” Scott County Department of Health Clinical Coordinator Roma Taylor said. “In Scott County, 95.7 percent of our children are vaccinated. And then in schools, kindergarten through 12th grade, children with a certificate of immunization would be 96.5 percent.”
Some children, Taylor said, have a certificate of religious or medical exemption or a provisional certificate. Others are given 60 days from the beginning of the first day of school to ensure they have a valid certificate, Taylor said. That provisional certificate must show they have all required vaccinations, including the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Across Illinois, there have been seven reported cases of measles this fiscal year, Hill said. The state has a strict vaccination policy, requiring proof of vaccination before enrolling in public or private school.
Measles, Hill said, is not just a little rash.
“Kids can develop encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain,” Hill said. “And that happens to one out of every 1,000 people with measles, and mainly it’s brain damage,” she said.
Education, she said, is important to the fight against measles.
“We have to have the discussion of the internet, which is all kinds of incorrect information based on a completely discredited report from a doctor who lost his license because it was completely fabricated,” Hill said, referring to Adam Wakefield, who in 1998 published a now-discredited paper on possible connections between the MMR vaccine and autism. Wakefield’s study was retracted in 2010 and he was struck off the UK’s medical register.
The measles vaccine is first administered to 1-year-olds, but children are not fully protected until they receive the second vaccine at age 4. That makes babies and young children reliant on others receiving the MMR vaccine, Hill said.
“So if measles is out in the environment, then we are putting every single infant at risk of getting measles,” she said.