(2/15/19) An upswing in measles cases across the country has the Louisiana Department of Health urging doctors to be on the lookout for the disease. Louisiana has yet to report a case of measles this year.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified an increase in measles cases in the United States. From January 1 to February 7, the CDC has documented 101 individual cases in 10 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
“With Texas and Georgia in such close proximity, there is a possibility for measles to move across borders into Louisiana. Healthcare professionals need to be on the alert for signs and symptoms of this highly contagious disease among their patients so that we can prevent similar outbreaks from occurring here,” said Dr. Alex Billioux, assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health.
Measles is a highly contagious infection spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. It takes approximately 11 to 12 days from time of exposure to the exhibition of symptoms.
All healthcare providers throughout Louisiana should consider measles when diagnosing patients who present with high fevers and a rash. Any suspected cases should be reported to the Office of Public Health Infectious Disease Epidemiology Hotline at 1-800-256-2748 to coordinate laboratory testing. Also, educate patients on the importance of washing their hands, avoiding touching infected surfaces or objects, and covering their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Healthcare providers should encourage all children and unimmunized individuals to be vaccinated against measles to protect their health and the health of those around them. Measles can be prevented with the MMR vaccine, which is safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93 percent effective
Most families in Louisiana choose to protect their children through immunization. MMR vaccination is required for school entry in Louisiana, with over 96 percent of kindergartners up to date for this important immunization.