SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Health officials across the country are monitoring a recent outbreak of measles.
The biggest outbreak comes from the state of Washington where they have seen the highest number of cases since 1996.
On Tuesday, health officials confirmed cases in Hawaii, Oregon and Georgia, but right now no cases have been confirmed in Louisiana.
“Unfortunately this is an outbreak that shouldn’t be happening,” said pediatrician Dr. Joseph Bocchini. “We have a very safe and effective vaccine that prevents measles, and unfortunately because a number of parents have chosen not to have their children immunized they remain susceptible to this virus.”
Last year, Louisiana did have two confirmed cases that involved an adult and a child who were both not vaccinated, and traveled out of the country contracting the virus.
Dr. Bocchini says that if parents allow their children to get vaccinated they usually will receive two doses. The first will take place when the child is 12 to 15 months, and the second around ages four to six.
There are some parents that choose not to vaccinate their child, but Dr. Bocchini says it’s much harder to keep those children protected against this virus.
“It’s very difficult to prevent someone from getting measles if they’re not protected by vaccines,” he said. “The reason is measles is one of the most infectious viruses that we know of, and if someone is in the same room as somebody who has measles for a short period of time, 90 percent of them who are not protected are going to end up being infected.”
Symptoms include a bronchitis-like cough, a watery runny nose and red eyes. A fever will then take place with these symptoms for about two days and by the third day the fever will worsen. That’s then when the red rash will show up.
The virus will take place for about a week if no complications arise.
“The virus spreads through cough, and the virus can stay up in the air for a period of time even after somebody leaves the room,” said Dr Bocchini. “If they’ve coughed and they have the measles, someone who walks in the room who’s not immunized can be infected for up to two hours.”
Dr. Bocchini advises people to get vaccinated, to stay clear of those who are sick and to routinely wash your hands.