Doctors: 2014 could be 'banner year' for measles

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A recent case of measles found in Clay County is leading some doctors to say that 2014 could be a “banner year” for the virus.

Doctor Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates in Kansas City, cautioned Wednesday that it’s one of the most contagious viruses known to doctors.

“If you are in a room with someone who has measles and they may cough or sneeze, those active infectious particles will hang in the air for up to two hours," she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 187 cases in the United States from January 1 to May 9, 2014, in 17 states including Missouri.

There hasn’t been a case of measles reported to the Kansas City, Mo., Health Department since 1996, according to Spokesperson Jeff Hershberger, but that does not include the entire state of Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service reports three case of measles in 2013, two in Lawrence and one in St. Louis City. There were two cases reported in 2014 total, one in Clay County and the other in Grundy County.


The Kansas Health Department reports seven cases in 2011. Six of those were in Johnson County and one in Denny County. The department also reports five cases in 2012 in Finney County. 

In spite of these numbers, Burgert believes most children on both sides of the state line between Kansas and Missouri have been vaccinated. 

"Our rates in Kansas and Missouri are good, they are above 90 percent in most areas," Burgert said.
She said that that is a good average to have and went onto add that a percentile around 95 to 96 is preferred.

On Tuesday, the Clay County Health Department confirmed one case of measles found in an unvaccinated infant who had just been brought back from an international trip.

That child is reported to not be in day care.

Burgert said that parents should consider getting their child the MMR vaccination as early as 6 months old if they plan to travel out of the country. But Wednesday, she also said it would be a good idea to discuss the same issue even if they are not traveling outside the country.

"I might consider talking to your physician if you're traveling to New York City, if you're going to Disneyland, if you're going to Disney World, certainly if you're going to do any travel in the EU or heading down for the world cup," she said.

But not all parents choose the tradition immunization route.

Crystal Briskey has three kids ages 5 to 8, all of which have Autism. Although, she makes it very clear that she does not have any information that would link the vaccines to the mental disorder.

She vaccinated her first two children until she and doctors discovered something was wrong. Her husband, she said, had a medical history of reacting to vaccines as a child and it appeared that their kids were doing the same thing.

"My daughter, I remember, her first set, she went three months with a 103 degree fever, she never wanted to sleep, she was crying all the time," she said.

After months of health concerns, she decided not to vaccinate her youngest, Josh, now 5.

“We started doing research, went to the CDC website, we started looking for other people in similar situations," she said. “We made an informed decision on what we felt was going to be best for them.”

Their family does face their fair share of criticism and judgment for their decision.

"We say, ‘Are we making the right decision?’ Are we going through this, and saying, ‘Ok, this is what's going to be best for my children's overall health,’ and it's a tough decision to make every single day," Briskey said. “A lot of people just assume that if you don't vaccinate, you don't know what you are talking about.”

Burgert said it’s important for everyone to know what to look for.

She said the virus may start like a common cold with a runny nose and low temperature but will turn into a rash that starts at the face and works its way down.

Parents are cautioned to tell your doctor before going if you suspect your child may have the virus.

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