The measles outbreak is the largest the country has seen in a quarter of a century since measles was eliminated in 2000.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — New CDC data shows that there are now 839 cases of measles in 23 states. And with tourism ramping up in South Dakota, it may be a good time to think about what if an outbreak happens in South Dakota.
The latest measles outbreak is linked to unvaccinated travelers and unvaccinated people in the U.S.
With tourist season kicking off soon, the fear of transmittable disease is on the horizon.
Dr. Donald Oliver, pediatrician at Black Hills Pediatrics L.L.P, says, “Three million visitors to Mt. Rushmore each year, it could easily happen here — vaccinate your children.”
The majority of the people who’ve contracted the highly contagious disease were not vaccinated.
Oliver says, “If you are susceptible to measles and you’re in a room the size of a gymnasium with an active case of measles, you will get it. It is one of the most contagious, infectious diseases on the planet.”
Dr. Oliver says lack of education would be the number one reason why people aren’t getting the vaccine, “They don’t know or understand the nature of vaccine-preventable diseases. They believe things that are untrue that they find on the internet and they put their trust in people who are not knowledgeable about those diseases.”
Symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, cough, red or inflamed eyes, headache — then a rash comes a day or so later.
He says the only prevention against it is getting immunized, or if you are planning on traveling to a place that has an outbreak, consider staying home if you have very young children.
Typically, the first vaccination is done at 12 months and the second dose at 4 to 5 years old. Teens and adults also should be up to date on their MMR vaccination and if you have not received a second dose, you should consider getting another one. Check your vaccine records to confirm.
The state has resources for families who need financial help getting vaccinations. South Dakota Department of Health supplies childhood vaccines for children eligible for the federal Vaccines for Children Program.
Dr. Oliver says, in general, the vaccine is well-tolerated and any possible side effects could include a sore arm, and possible fever or mild rash in a child.