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Fresno County taking measures to prevent measles cases in wake of California outbreaks

As California deals with the spread of measles, Fresno County officials reported Friday they haven’t had any confirmed cases this year.

But local officials are staying busy with testing suspected cases and preparing for a potential outbreak.

The local planning comes on the heels of the seventh confirmed case reported in Los Angeles County this week, and a recent quarantine of hundreds of people, including students at two universities. Confirmed cases have been reported in other areas of the state, too, including Sacramento.

County health departments are the initial clearinghouse for reports of suspected cases coming from health-care providers. As of midday Friday, Fresno County officials had six open investigations and had received another four reports to check out.

“We are receiving those (reports) on a consistent basis,” said Leticia Berber, a county health educator.

The county’s work doesn’t stop there. Berber said the health department has sent alerts to hospitals and schools and is working with Fresno State on a plan of action in case of a measles outbreak on campus.

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Symptoms, treatment

Dr. Christian Faulkenberry-Miranda, an associate clinical professor at UCSF Fresno, said the measles virus is one of the most contagious. Initial symptoms include general tiredness, cough and congestion, fever, followed by eye discharge. Within three to five days of those first symptoms, an infected person begins to get a rash starting at the hairline.

Anyone who suspects being infected with the measles should call their primary care provider or the county health department for directions on what to do. They should not go to their provider’s office or the emergency room because they could expose others to the virus.

Children, those with compromised immune systems and the elderly are the most at risk.

The U.S. eradicated the measles in 2000, but non-vaccinated people have imported the virus from other countries. Fauklenberry-Miranda said 90% of those exposed who are not vaccinated will get the measles.

People traveling to countries such as India, the Philippines and Cambodia should check their immunization status to make sure they have all the necessary vaccinations, Berber said.

Early vaccination

Children usually get their first vaccine against the measles between 1 year and 15 months of age, and their second vaccine comes between ages 4-6. “Once you receive those two vaccines, you are protected for life,” Berber said.

In 2018, the Fresno County vaccination rate was 97.6 percent according to a sample of 18,573 kindergarteners.

Fresno County has dealt with recent measles case. In 2018, the county had one confirmed case in an adult. In 2015, an infected man was thought to have potentially exposed mothers and babies in the labor and delivery area of Community Regional Medical Center.

For questions regarding suspected cases or vaccination, call the Fresno County Department of Public Health’s Immunization Program at 559-600-3550.

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