The West Central District Health Department said Friday that so far, extended tests are negative on suspected measles cases in North Platte.One measles case was confirmed April 14 in Lincoln County. However, ongoing tests are still being conducted. The department declined to say how many cases are being tested, or if the three persons who were undergoing tests three days earlier, on April 18, have been cleared.
In the confirmed case, the victim had been vaccinated, officials said.
Still, WCDHD Executive Director Shannon Vanderheiden encourages anyone not vaccinated to be immunized.
“The best way to protect yourself and your community is to make sure everyone has been vaccinated,” Vanderheiden said Friday.
Most people in Nebraska are immune to measles, either from vaccination or from having had the disease. Immunization is effective in 97% of the cases, according to studies by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.
Measles is highly contagious, spreading easily by coughing, sneezing or even being in the same room with someone who has the measles. If one person has it, 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says.
Vanderheiden said immunization rates have declined in some communities and groups – “often due to fears related to misinformation about vaccine risks.”
There are legitimate health concerns about vaccination in rare cases. Children under age 1 are too young to vaccinate.
A decline in immunization rates increases the risk – not only for those who are unvaccinated by choice, but also for those who cannot be vaccinated due to health status or age, DHHS said.
The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles, Vanderheiden said.
A child needs two doses of MMR vaccine for the best protection:
The first dose is at 12-15 months of age.
The second dose is 4-6 years of age.
Measles is serious. It can lead to hospitalization in about 25% of the cases, and even death in 1-2 cases out of 1,000, the CDC said.
Measles is not new, but it’s rarely seen in Nebraska. There were no measles cases in the state in 2016, three in 2015 and one in 2014.
Before 2014, the last measles case in a Nebraska resident was in the early 90s, the state health department says.
Symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by a rash that typically spreads from the head to the rest of the body.
The west central health department did not say if the North Platte case of measles stemmed from a confirmed measles case in Omaha March 12-15.
March 12-15 was the time of spring break for North Platte schools.
If you traveled to Omaha during that time and were at any of the locations below, contact the West Central District Health Department at (308) 696 - 1201.
• Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, March 13 (8 am-2 pm)
• Delta flight 798 from Minneapolis to Omaha, March 12 (8-10:30 pm)
• Eppley Airfield South Terminal, Omaha, March 12 (10:30 pm–1:30 am)
• Eppley Airfield South baggage claim, Omaha, March 12 (10:30 pm–1:30 am)
• Hampton Inn, 12331 Southport Pkwy La Vista, March 12–17
• Urgent Care of Papillion, S 73rd Plaza, March 15 (6–8:30 pm)
• CHI Urgent Care, S 96th St La Vista, March 15 (7–10 pm)
• Bergan Mercy Hospital ED, Omaha, March 15 (8:30 pm–12 am)
For more information on measles, visit the WCDHD website at http://wcdhd.org/measles2017.html.