WICHITA, Kansas – Sedgwick County will continue giving free measles shots through the end of the week.
Officials are trying to be proactive to keep the virus from spreading.
“There’s a huge increase in measles cases when you look at the average number around the country being 60 per year and already up to July 1, we have over 560 cases in the United States,” said Adrienne Byrne-Lutz, Sedgwick County Health Department.
The nationwide problem has struck right in Sedgwick County with eight cases of measles at last report, but officials expect that number to go up before the end of the week.
Measles outbreak in Kansas
On Saturday, in an effort to help residents get vaccinated, the health department ran a free clinic giving 63 people shots.
“It was in direct response to this measles outbreak.”
State officials say there’s more than one reason the disease has spread so quickly, rising from no cases last year to at least 11 cases in the past month statewide.
It has been attributed to the extremely contagious nature of the disease matched with people not vaccinating their children and an expansion of international travel that sometimes leads to diseases spreading. Learn more about the spread of the disease below.
“It’ll find pockets of people who are very vulnerable to catching this disease and again it can include people who are not vaccinated, who are too young to receive vaccinations, pregnant women, or anyone with a compromised immune system,” said Aimee Rosenow, Sedgwick County Health Department.
But officials do agree that vaccination is key to helping keep the disease out of the spotlight.
“It’s important for as many people to get vaccinated as possible. The more gaps you have the more opportunities there are for diseases and viruses to spread,” added Byrne-Lutz.
“That’s something that people really need to consider because it goes outside of just themselves and their family,” said Rosenow.
After this week, the price of the shot goes back up to $78.
The signs and symptoms of measles typically begin one to two weeks after someone is exposed to an infected person.
- Blotchy rash on the skin, which spreads from the head to the trunk then to the lower extremities (Measles can be spread to others from four days before to four days after the rash appears.)
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Feeling run down, achy
- Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik spots)
What causes measles to spread
Outbreaks in countries to which Americans often travel can directly contribute to an increase in measles cases in the U.S.
Reasons for an increase in cases some years:
- 2014: The Philippines is experiencing a large, ongoing measles outbreak. Many of the cases in the U.S. in 2014 have been associated with cases brought in from the Philippines. For more information see the Measles in the Philippines Travelers’ Health Notice.
- 2013: The U.S. experienced 11 outbreaks in 2013, three of which had more than 20 cases, including an outbreak with 58 cases. For more information see Measles-United States, January 1-August 24, 2013.
- 2011: In 2011, more than 30 countries in the WHO European Region reported an increase in measles, and France was experiencing a large outbreak. Most of the cases that were brought to the U.S. in 2011 came from France. For more information see Measles—United States, January–May 20, 2011.
- 2008: The increase in cases in 2008 was the result of spread in communities with groups of unvaccinated people. The U.S. experienced several outbreaks in 2008 including three large outbreaks. For more information see Update: Measles—United States, January–July 2008.
See also: The Surveillance Manual chapter on measles that describes case investigation, outbreak investigation, and outbreak control for additional information.