No community spread of measles, health official says

Experts say the measles vaccine helps to prevent the spread of the disease.
Experts say the measles vaccine helps to prevent the spread of the disease.(WHSV)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:20 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) identified five individuals diagnosed with measles.

The people confirmed to have measles traveled from Afghanistan as part of the United States government’s emergency evacuation efforts, according to a VDH press release.

Public Information Officer for the Central Shenandoah Health District Laura Lee Wight says there was one confirmed case of measles in Virginia in 2020 and two in 2019. Wight says case numbers are low because the vaccine is very popular.

“More than 90% of the U.S. population is vaccinated against measles,” Wight said.

The MMRV vaccine is a vaccine against measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox, and it’s why measles isn’t seen in the U.S. very often, Wight said.

“It’s a vaccination that is required in the state of VA for school aged children, so many of us get vaccinated when we’re quite young,” Wight said.

Although vaccine rates are high, Wight says VDH saw a drop in childhood immunizations in 2020.

“It’s critical that individuals get their children vaccinated and they keep up with their routine immunizations,” Wight said.

VDH said things like measles, diphtheria and COVID-19 are vaccine-preventable diseases.

“If everyone is up to date on their routine immunizations, then that is one of the best ways we can stop the spread of not only measles, but other vaccine preventable diseases like COVID-19,” Wight said.

Because of high vaccination rates, Wight says there’s no community spread at the moment. She said measles is a reportable, communicable disease.

“There are already systems in place within our healthcare system and our public health system of reporting and identifying cases of measles,” Wight said.

Much like COVID-19 contact tracing, VDH and the federal government are working to identify all cases of measles and notify anyone who came into contact with the disease.

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