Kenai Public Health Center on alert for measles

  • By KAYLEE OSOWSKI
  • Tuesday, June 10, 2014 11:00pm
  • News

Tourists this season could bring more than money to the area.

With a high number of measles outbreaks in the Lower 48 from Jan. 1 to June 6, Kenai Public Health Center Nurse Manager Charlie Barrows said Alaskans should be aware of the virus, especially during the summer travel season.

“We don’t want to frighten people, but with tourist season, people come from all over the place,” Barrows said.

While Barrows said Alaska hasn’t had a reported measles case since 2000, the state is ranked 39th for immunizations of children 19-35 months old, according to the 2011 National Immunization Survey.

“We consistently have geographic areas that are under-immunized often for religious reasons,” Barrows said. “Here, on the Peninsula, we’ve got folks that … claim religious exemption. Where you have more of that religion obviously you’re going to have more kids that might be under-immunized.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles was documented as eliminated, not native, in the U.S. in 2000. This year the nation has seen 397 cases in 20 states and 16 outbreaks — excess of what would be expected.

Currently, the Philippines is experiencing a large measles outbreak, and, according to the CDC, many U.S. cases have been associated with cases brought over form the Philippines.

Barrows said random measles cases are expected from unimmunized tourists. However, the nearly 400 reported cases in the nation is surprising.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends a two-dose schedule of the MMR — measles, mumps and rubella — vaccine. The first dose should be given when children are 12-15 months old and the second at 4-6 years old.

The Kenai Public Health Center provides immunizations for children from infants to 3 years old with no insurance or eligibility requirements. For older children, the center is restricted to uninsured or underinsured or Alaska Native Medicaid clients. Other healthcare providers on the Peninsula can also provide MMR vaccines.

Barrows said under- or unimmunized children exposed to measles are at a higher risk for death from the virus.

For adults who have never been vaccinated for MMR, they are recommended to get one dose. Healthcare providers and college students are recommended to get two doses, Barrows said.

Barrows said measles is highly contagious airborne virus, and symptoms include fever, rash, runny nose and runny eyes. People who think they may have contracted measles should go to their regular medical provider, she said.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to culture the rash and send it to the state laboratory, Barrows said. Measles can be misdiagnosed as scarlet fever, Kawasaki disease or dengue fever, she said.

Unimmunized Alaskans traveling outside the state, especially internationally, Barrows said, are at high risk of contracting measles.

“If you’ve got measles around you and you are not vaccinated, you probably are going to get them,” Barrows said.

 

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

Most Read