Advertisement

Editorial: A plea for children to be vaccinated as measles' return hits close to Carroll

A third case of measles in the state was confirmed by the Maryland Department of Health and, once again, it hits close to home for those in Carroll County as the latest victim, like the first, recently spent time in Pikesville.

“It is concerning that three cases of measles have been identified in Maryland in such a short period of time,” Deputy Secretary for Public Health Frances B. Phillips, said in a news release. “We are asking that Marylanders ensure they and their families are up-to-date on vaccinations against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Advertisement

According to the MDH, on April 14, the third victim was at 4000 Old Court Road (a business center with multiple medical facilities) in Pikesville from about 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Market Maven (1630 Reisterstown Road) from about 11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and at Seven Mile Market (201 Reisterstown Road) from about 12:45 to 3:15 p.m. The second case in Maryland came from household contact with the first victim, who was at 4000 Old Court Road on April 2. Health officials have warned that anyone at these sites on these dates could have been exposed and a person who has not been vaccinated can catch measles just by being in a room where a contagious person was within the previous two hours.

It’s hard to fathom we are even contemplating measles in 2019 given that the viral disease was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000. Yet nearly 600 cases have been confirmed recently in at least 20 states. It has the potential to become far more widespread thanks to the foolish but growing trend of parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated.

According to a Centers for Disease Control analysis of a 2017 immunization survey, 1.3 percent of children born in 2015 had not received any of the recommended vaccinations, more than quadrupling the number of 2-year-olds who went unvaccinated in 2000. That translates to about 100,000 children. The vaccination for measles, rubella and mumps is about 97 percent effective and its creation in the early 1960s was a significant step forward for children’s health. The CDC estimates that before the vaccination, some 3 to 4 million Americans got measles each year. Only about 500,000 cases per year were reported each year to the CDC, but of those, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 developed encephalitis.

Carroll Hospital took a sensible approach in temporarily changing some of its policies to keep patients, visitors and staff members safe from potential exposure. For the time being, no visitors younger than age 14 are allowed into the hospital. Additionally, the Breastfeeding and Postpartum Support Groups are being relocated to the Robert Moton Center, 300 S. Center St., Westminster. Those attending are asked to bring newborns only and no older siblings. Dr. Henry Taylor, Carroll County deputy health officer, told the Times last week that county residents should take warnings from health officials seriously.

“The public may have forgotten the widespread outbreaks of measles and other childhood diseases many years ago, but this reminds us that measles is one of the most contagious of the respiratory viruses,” he said. For example, one review of studies of seasonal flu outbreaks found that one person typically infects 1.28 other susceptible people. For measles, that number is 12 to 18.

Again, this doesn’t have to be the case. If everyone old enough to be vaccinated who has not would simply get vaccinated, they would not only be protecting themselves but anyone else who is unvaccinated, including babies too young to receive the vaccine. Additional information is available at health.maryland.gov/measles.

Advertisement
Advertisement