Kenai Public Health Center on alert for measles

  • 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

More in News

Spruce trees are photographed in Seldovia, Alaska, on Sept. 26, 2021. (Clarion file)
Arbor Day grant application period opens

The program provides chosen applicants with up to $400 to buy and ship trees to their schools.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Ark., leave the chamber after a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Wednesday, May 10, 2017. A magistrate ruled Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, that there is probable cause for a case to continue against a man accused of threatening to kill Alaska’s two U.S. senators in profanity-filled voicemails left on their office phones. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Grand jury will get case of man threatening to kill senators

He is accused of making threats against U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
Virus death toll soars

The state reported 66 more COVID deaths Tuesday, some recent and some as far back as April.

Kelly Tshibaka addresses members of the community at Nikiski Hardware & Supply on Friday, April 9, 2021 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Peninsula campaign cash going to Tshibaka

Tshibaka raised about $1.2 million between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30.

Associated Press
The Statement of Facts to support the complaint and arrest warrant for Christian Manley say that Manley, the Alabama man accused of using pepper spray and throwing a metal rod at law enforcement protecting the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, has been arrested in Alaska.
Authorities arrest Alabama man in Alaska after Jan. 6 riot

The FBI took Christian Manley into custody Friday in Anchorage.

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
Gates indicate the entrance of Soldotna Community Memorial Park on Tuesday in Soldotna.
Soldotna’s cemetery expanding

The expansion is expected to add 20 years worth of capacity to the existing cemetery.

In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, U.S. Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, speaks during a ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska. The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House is appearing in a new round of ads urging Alaskans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ads featuring Young are being paid for by the Conquer COVID Coalition, Young spokesperson Zack Brown said by email Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Young urges vaccination in new ads

Young, 88, “believes the vaccines are safe, effective and can help save lives.”

A portable sign on the Sterling Highway advertises a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinaton booster clinic held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
What you need to know about boosters

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility explained

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Most Read