This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
So far in 2015, more than 100 people have been infected with measles as part of an outbreak that began at a theme park in neighboring California. Most of those who have been infected were unvaccinated, so their immune systems were not prepared to fight the virus. Here in Northern Nevada, health officials are investigating a number of cases involving measles. While no laboratory confirmed cases of measles have occurred in our community so far, this is an important time to ensure your family is properly vaccinated.
Measles is caused by a virus that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It’s so contagious if one person has it, 90 percent of the people around him or her also are going to become infected if they are not protected. Measles starts with a fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can be especially serious for young children. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and even death. If you are concerned you or your child may be infected with measles, call your health care provider before you go to provide information you’re concerned you may have measles. Your doctor may have procedures in place to keep those who have suspected measles from coming in contact with other patients.
In order to offer maximum protection against measles, children should get two doses of the vaccine that protects against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) — the first when they are 12-15 months old and again between 4 and 6 years of age. Timely vaccination protects not only your own child, but also children who are too young to get the vaccine, those with health problems that prevent them receiving the vaccine, and those with immune systems weakened by illness.
In order to ensure everyone who needs the vaccine has the opportunity to receive it, Carson City Health and Human Services’ Long Street Clinic is going to offer extended hours each Thursday in February.
“In order to look out for the well-being of our community, we are pleased to offer extended vaccination hours during the measles outbreak” said Nicki Aaker, director of Carson City Health and Human Services.
The clinic will remain open until 6 p.m. on Thursdays through Feb. 26 to accommodate those who cannot attend during normal business hours. No appointment is needed to get vaccinated, and most insurance is accepted in payment.
For more information about extended hours for measles vaccination, call Carson City Health and Human Services’ clinic at 887-2195. To learn more about other Health Department programs and services, visit www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCHHS.