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Measles Cases Rise Nationally, South Dakotans Urged to Check Immunizations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Lon Kightlinger, (605) 773-3737 


Measles Cases Rise Nationally; South Dakotans Urged To Check Immunizations


PIERRE, S.D. – With measles cases on the rise nationally South Dakotans should make sure their immunizations are up to date, says a state health official.


“There have been more than 200 cases of measles nationally this year, including two in Minnesota,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “South Dakota hasn’t reported a case of measles since 1997 but we have had residents who were exposed to measles out-of-state. Up to date immunizations are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.”


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 two out of every 1,000 patients.


While measles is typically considered a childhood disease it can be contracted at any age. The majority of measles cases in the United States are preschoolers, adolescents, young adults and unvaccinated individuals.


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.


Parents in need of vaccine for their children can contact their usual health care provider or check the list of childhood vaccine providers on the department’s website, http://doh.sd.gov/local-offices/vaccine-providers/.


More information about measles is available on the department’s website at http://doh.sd.gov/diseases/infectious/diseasefacts/Measles.aspx or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html.


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Increasing child immunization rates is a key objective of the department’s Health 2020 Initiative.