Taking care

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2019

An incredibly informative conversation with Rhonda Pruitt of the Virginia Department of Health’s Piedmont Health District recently deepened my understanding of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR) and of the measles virus itself.

Measles became a nationwide topic after Washington state declared a state of emergency following 26 confirmed cases of measles Jan. 25. That number has since rose to nearly 50 cases as on Monday. Between Jan. 1 to Jan. 31 of this year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report 79 confirmed cases of measles in 10 states.

The virus was reported to have been eliminated in the United States in 2000.

There haven’t been confirmed cases of measles in our coverage area: Lunenburg County. However, the Piedmont Health District reported that it has performed tests on patients, including one patient as recently as December, concerned that they may have measles.

The virus includes an onset of symptoms similar to a cold — fever, a runny nose, redness of the eyes and a cough — and later develops into a red, blotchy rash that can appear on the face and body.

One out of four people will require hospitalization, Pruitt said. One out of 1,000 with measles will develop brain swelling, which Pruitt said is called encephalitis. Encephalitis can lead to brain damage.

About one or two out of every 1,000 people with measles will die even with the best of medical care, Pruitt said.

It’s good to question anything. It’s good to do research to decide what course of action is best for you and your family. If anyone reading this is against the MMR vaccine, consider the very real risks associated with the disease, the risks that people infected can place on others, and the literature associated with the potential correlation between the MMR vaccine and autism.

This potential correlation is believed to have originated from a study published in 1999 by Andrew Wakefield in the peer-reviewed journal, The Lancet, which explored a possible correlation between the vaccine and autism. Wakefield was convicted of falsifying the data within the study and later was stripped of his medical license.

The MMR vaccine can usually be found at one’s doctor’s office. If someone does not have a primary care doctor, they can contact their local health department and schedule an appointment for vaccine.

For questions about the vaccine, people can call their health care providers or the Virginia Department of Health Piedmont Health District at (434) 392-3984.

Emily Hollingsworth is a staff reporter for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Emily.Hollingsworth@KVDispatch.com.