Measles Outbreak in Several States Creates National Concern

By on 5:05 AM

Childhood diseases are reemerging at an alarming rate, and officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are extremely concerned about a measles outbreak that should serve as a "wakeup call," according to Anne Schuchat, MD, assistant surgeon general for the U.S. Public Health Service and director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

From January 1-28, 2015, the CDC reports that there was a total of 84 measles cases in 14 states. Most of these cases are part of an ongoing, multistate outbreak linked to the Disneyland resort theme park in Orange County, Calif., although it is not known exactly how this outbreak originally began.

Measles, one of the most contagious communicable diseases, spreads via the respiratory/droplet route and contaminated surfaces. As the majority of patients infected are unvaccinated, it is critical for parents to heed to the CDC's recommendations for childhood immunization. The measles vaccine is highly effective, with a roughly 95% efficacy rate, is reported to be safe and prevents the devastating consequences of this sometimes deadly disease.

Parents of unvaccinated children as well as unvaccinated adults born after 1957 should be quarantined for 21 days after a known or suspected exposure to someone with measles. In addition, healthcare professionals should suspect measles in unvaccinated patients with the following signs and symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek — also called Koplik's spots
  • Skin rash made up of large, flat blotches that often flow into one another

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.