Cases of Measles on the Rise, Mumps Confirmed in Montana
February 20, 2019
Even with modern medicine and vaccination schedules, the measles are making the rounds throughout the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, from Jan. 1 through Feb. 14 of this year, 127 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 10 states, with the closest being Washington and Oregon. Even though there are no confirmed cases in Montana, as of yet, precautions need to be put in place to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones.
Measles is a highly contagious disease and can be very serious for young children, according to the Valley County Health Department. It can be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes and another person inhales the disease. Another way it’s spread is through infected surfaces, by an individual touching an infected surface and then their eyes, nose or mouth. If one person has it, there is a 90 percent chance the people close in proximity to that person, who are not immune, will also be infected.
Director of the Valley County Health Department Crystal Alvarado states the best course for prevention is vaccination. The Health Department recommends that people get the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to protect against the trio of diseases. Mumps has made an appearance in Bozeman schools with three confirmed cases this month. This is the second outbreak of the mumps disease following five cases reported last December.
The first dose of the vaccination is typically given between 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose is given to children between four and six years of age. Montana state law requires public school students receive the MMR vaccine, however parents can seek a medical exemption or request a religious exemption. Alvarado states the MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of the vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles while one dose is about 93 percent effective.
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. If insurance doesn’t cover the vaccine or there is no medical insurance coverage, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help. The program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vacination. More information can be found at http://www.center4research.org/vaccines-children-program-vfc/.
The Valley County Health Department offers a walk-in vaccination clinic on Mondays from 2 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. For more information on the MMR vaccine or the measles, contact them at 406-228-6261.