Health officials: Oakland County measles outbreak is over

By: Kayla Dimick | C&G Newspapers | Published June 12, 2019

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OAKLAND COUNTY — After wreaking havoc on the metro Detroit area this spring, the Michigan measles outbreak has ended, officials from the Oakland County Health Division announced recently.

Officials announced an end to the outbreak in a press release June 5. It was the largest local measles outbreak since 1991.

It all started in March, when an ill traveler from New York visited the Oakland County area, and out of the 44 confirmed measles cases, 40 of them occurred in Oakland County. Those affected by the virus ranged in age from 8 months to 63 years old, officials said.

“Health Division leaders and staff worked tirelessly to combat this outbreak and protect the health and safety of Oakland County residents,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in a prepared statement. “Their effort is a remarkable example of the dedication and care it takes to contain such a highly contagious illness.”

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford said in the release that over 3,300 measles vaccines were administered during the outbreak, and 17 special vaccine clinics were held throughout the area.

The vaccines were administered by the Oakland County Health Division, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Young Israel of Oak Park, Hatzalah of Michigan, local health care providers and local religious communities.

“A key part of containing the outbreak was providing technical assistance to health care providers, schools, child care facilities, summer camps and community organizations, along with widespread community education efforts through press releases, media interviews and social media,” Stafford said in the release. “These efforts also improved access to vaccination opportunities and increased the community’s overall knowledge of measles.”

Stafford credited the Health Division and its community partners with ending the outbreak.

“We are thankful that this outbreak has ended and hope it also serves as a reminder of how important getting vaccinated is to prevent future outbreaks in Oakland County,” she said in the release.

According to health officials, measles is a vaccine-preventable disease that is spread not only by direct person-to-person contact, but can also be spread through the air by a contagious person sneezing or coughing.

The measles virus can live for up to two hours in the air after an infected person has coughed or sneezed, officials said.

Symptoms of measles are a high fever, which may spike to over 104 degrees; a cough; a runny nose; red, watery eyes; tiny white spots on the inner cheeks, gums and roof of the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin; and a rash that is red, raised or blotchy, which usually starts on the face and spreads to the torso, arms and legs three to five days after the symptoms begin.

 The symptoms of the disease usually begin seven to 14 days after exposure, but they can appear up to 21 days after exposure.

It is recommended that possibly exposed individuals watch for symptoms for 21 days after exposure to the virus. If symptoms do develop, health experts recommend calling ahead to the health care provider you plan to visit so they can take precautions to prevent exposure to other people.

The MMR vaccine is available through some health care providers, at the Oakland County Health Division offices in Southfield and Pontiac, and at many pharmacies.

The vaccine is a two-dose series and costs $71 per dose. There is a $7 fee per vaccination, per client. The Health Division accepts health insurance, as well as Medicaid, Medicare, the Vaccines for Children program, cash and credit. VFC offers vaccines at no cost for eligible children. There are additional fees for credit card payments.

Officials said no one will be denied access to the vaccine due to the inability to pay. In this case, a discounted/sliding fee schedule is available.

For more information about measles, visit www.oakgov.com/health or call the Nurse on Call at (800) 848-5533 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.

For up-to-date public health information, follow @publichealthOC on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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