It appears that students enrolled within the Nye County School District have dodged the measles virus, while more than one case in the Clark County School District has been confirmed.
Of the 5,056 students enrolled in the Nye County School District, Superintendent Dale Norton said 5.7 percent, or 288 students claim an exemption on one or more of the required vaccines.
“Of those 288 students, 182 or 63 percent used the religious exemption, while the remaining 106 students claimed a medical exemption and they can do that by law,” Norton said. “We don’t have any known cases that have been reported to us. If we have any concerns, we contact our district health nurse and she deals with those issues and keeps us abreast of what’s going on.”
Meagan Kowalski, physician liaison for Desert View Hospital, said no patients have presented measles-like symptoms. One case of possible measles was reported at Nye Regional Medical Center in Tonopah, but the case was sent to state health officials for further analysis.
Martha Framsted, spokesperson with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, said Tuesday all the state’s confirmed cases are the six in Clark County.
Clark County School District with more than 300,000 students enrolled, reported that roughly 2 percent, or more than 6,000 students were unvaccinated, with about 70 percent of those using their religious belief exemption.
The others claimed a medical exemption which requires a doctor’s note.
This year, Clark County health officials have identified six cases of measles in southern Nevada including an infant, a young child and a high school student.
Three adults are also believed to have contracted the measles virus, including an unvaccinated adult, an under-vaccinated adult and a third whose immunization status is unclear.
While health officials nationwide insist vaccinations are the best way to prevent getting the measles, there still are parents of school-aged kids who also insist vaccinations are unsafe and can opt out if they choose.
Though at present, all 50 states have legislation requiring specified vaccines for students, there are exemptions some parents use to exempt their child from getting the measles vaccine.
They range anywhere from religious and philosophical, to moral and personal beliefs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.
In the United States, widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99 percent reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era.
Jennifer Sizemore with the Southern Nevada Health District said regardless of what some parents still believe, the measles vaccination is safe and the preferred method for preventing the spread of the disease according to health experts.
One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97 percent effective.
“The vaccinations are safe and effective when you get the two doses,” she said. “There was a lot of misinformation out there at one point about some of the risks associated with the vaccine and those have really been disproven but a lot of people still have concerns about it. Bottom line, it is a very safe vaccine.”
Sizemore also noted a study linking the measles vaccine to autism in young children was proven to be unfounded.
“That study was found to be inaccurate,” she said. “It was withdrawn but a lot of people still believe it was accurate, but it really isn’t. There’s still a lot of myths that surround vaccinations, but if you look at scientific, credible, medical information, you’ll find that a lot of those myths are not true.”
Additionally, Sizemore noted that mucus in the nose and throat of an infected person contains the measles virus and is highly contagious.
When an infected person sneezes or coughs, droplets containing the virus are sprayed into the air.
Roughly 10 days after exposure to the virus, the infected person will contract a fever lasting two to four days, followed by the onset of coughing, runny nose and/or red eyes.
Those mostly at risk are children younger than 12 months who are too young to receive the vaccine, those born after 1957 who have not been vaccinated and have not had the virus and people vaccinated before the age of one.
“The virus also remains active up to two hours on surfaces and people’s hands can transfer the virus to their nose or throat from a contaminated surface,” she said “A rash usually begins 14 days after exposure and lasts five to six days. The rash begins at the hairline and gradually spreads downward reaching the hands and feet.”
Since 2000, when measles was declared eliminated from the U.S., the annual number of people reported to have measles ranged from a low of 37 people in 2004 to a high of 644 people in 2014.
Most of the cases originated outside the country or were linked to a case that originated outside the country.
Parents who can’t remember which vaccines their child has had now have a resource at their disposal.
Nevada WebIZ is an online registry, which stores vaccination records of all children immunized in Nevada.
Logon to izrecord.nv.gov.