Health officials discuss preventative measures to take following first confirmed measles case in West Virginia since 2009

RIPLEY, W.Va. — Health department officials say that while the measles risk might be on the rise following a nationwide uptick– including the first case recently being found in West Virginia in 15 years– they say there are steps one can take to protect themselves from the disease.

Jackson County Health Department Administrator Amy Haskins talked to MetroNews affiliate WMOV Radio out of Ravenswood following the the first discovery of measles in the state from a patient in Monongalia County on Monday– the first reported case in West Virginia since 2009.

The case is part of a global and national rise in the virus this year.

Amy Haskins

In the latest update, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that there have so far been 125 cases of confirmed measles reported this year, which is up significantly from 2023.

Haskins told WMOV that measles is one of the most contagious diseases out there, and is spread easily when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.

She said steering clear from anyone who is having raspatory issues would be the first step in preventing one from contracting measles, adding that could also pose a little bit of a challenge right now.

“Of course, we are even in seasonal allergy season, so that’s going to be somewhat difficult to do and hard to determine exactly what it is that those around you might be sick from,” Haskins said.

According to the World Health Organization, the virus can affect anyone, but is most common in children. Symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, and a rash all over the body, WHO reports.

Haskins said another strong preventative measure one can take against measles is washing hands and cleaning off surfaces in the home, as she said the measles is one illness that can linger on surfaces for quite a longtime, as well as in the air.

However, Haskins said the best preventative measure against the virus of all– making sure you are updated on your vaccine.

She encourages anyone who may have not received a measles shot in a longtime to get one again.

“We are in the population of a lot of adults who may only have one vaccine, but that has since changed, and there are two vaccines that are recommended,” said Haskins. “So, if you’re in that age group that may have only had one vaccine, we recommend that you try and get that second vaccine.”

Director of the Kanawha County Health Department and Emergency Room Physician at Jackson General Hospital, Dr. Steven Eshenaur also got on with WMOV Radio regarding measles prevention.

Eshenaur said that if you have at this point only had one measles vaccination, health officials consider you under-immunized, meaning you may not have antibodies to measles should there be an outbreak.

Dr. Steven Eshenaur,

He said it’s important for people to check with their local health department for their medical record if they have not received a measles vaccine in a number of decades.

“Have them pull the medical record from the West Virginia Immunization system, they may or may not have a record on you, but that is one way you could possibly check,” he said.

Eshenaur added, though, that another way to check is at a hospital or clinic where you know you had received the first shot, even if the specific medical provider is no longer there.

He said, however, don’t worry if you may have forgotten that you had already received a second measles shot and get one again, as there’s no harm in getting an extra.

“We have had many individuals when I was in the military as a physician that could not produce a record,” Eshenaur said. “They thought they may have been immunized, but the military immunized them for measles, mumps and rubella, and the adverse-reaction rate is exceptionally low.”

The WHO said the measles vaccine averted 57 million deaths from 2000 to 2022, but vaccine rates for the virus have gradually dropped over the years.

They said in 2022, 83% of children in the world received one dose of the vaccine by their first birthday– the lowest since 2008.





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