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Six Things To Know About Measles Cases In 2019 And What It Means For Utah

Photo of measles vaccine definition. / Devonyu

The United States is in the midst of the largest outbreak of measles in decades. Cases have been reported in 22 states. KUER spoke with Rich Lakin, the immunization program manager at the Utah Department of Health about what he says Utahns should know about the outbreak.

  1. While there are no reported cases of measles in Utah, over 700 cases of measles have been reported in the U.S making it the worst outbreak in this country in decades.
  2. Since Salt Lake City is a large transportation hub, Lakin says he and his colleagues at the Utah Department of Health are surprised there are not measles cases in Utah yet. Cases have been reported in surrounding states including Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.
  3. Children don’t get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine until the age of one. Older children who are unvaccinated pose a risk of measles spreading if an outbreak occurs in Utah.
  4. Adults can pose a risk too. Those who don’t have evidence that they’re immune from getting a blood test or don’t remember if they’ve been vaccinated should get a booster shot of one dose of the MMR vaccine.
  5. Some adults should get the full round of the MMR vaccine (two doses, separated by at least 28 days) if they don’t have evidence that they’re vaccinated. Those groups include:
    1. Adults attending post-high school educational institutions.
    2. Adults and adolescents traveling internationally.
    3. Health care workers
    4. Family members close to people with immuno-compromised health conditions like HIV infection or who are getting cancer therapy.

  6. Measles can result in mild or severe cases. Mild cases include flu-like symptoms. Severe cases of measles can result in complications including encephalitis or pneumonia. So far, documented cases in this year’s outbreak range from mild to severe.
Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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