For the first time since 1997, South Dakota has reported a case of the viral disease, measles. The unvaccinated child is a Davison County resident under the age of 5.
“South Dakota has good immunization coverage rates but measles is on the rise nationally which means unvaccinated individuals are at risk for exposure when they travel to areas with cases,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “Up to date immunizations are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the measles. We strongly encourage South Dakotans to check their immunization records and make sure they’re up to date.”
Kightlinger said the department is working to identify those who may have been exposed to the case.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease transmitted from one person to another by direct contact or airborne by droplet spread. It is a serious illness that causes permanent brain damage in one in every 1,000 patients and is fatal in three out of every 1,000 patients.
Historically measles was typically considered a childhood disease it can be contracted at any age. The majority of measles cases in the United States are unvaccinated preschoolers, adolescents and young adults.
The best protection against the disease is the measles vaccine (MMR). For full protection, two doses of the vaccine are recommended, the first at 12 months of age and a second dose by age four. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are required for students entering schools in South Dakota. MMR vaccination is also required for children entering child care.
This year the United States is experiencing a record number of measles cases. From January 1 to November 29, 2014, there have been 610 confirmed measles cases reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.