Despite readily available vaccines, 2019 has seen one of the biggest outbreaks of measles in years. While much of the spread can be attributed to the anti-vaccination movement and the movement’s followers collective resistance to get the vaccine for themselves and/or their children, it appears that the Michigan outbreak was linked to a “patient zero” who believed that he was immune.
While many of the details remain confidential due to patient privacy laws, the general details are as follows: a man, believed to be in his 40’s or 50’s, traveled from Israel to New York, where he spent time before traveling to Oakland County, Michigan, a highly populated county just outside of Detroit. While in Oakland County, he visited multiple synagogues on behalf of his work.
The man visited a Michigan doctor as soon as his symptoms began presenting, but the doctor first dismissed it as a case of bronchitis. The doctor became concerned when the man returned the following day with a rash on his face- a rash that is a telltale sign of measles. The man told doctors that he believed he was immune because he had the measles as a child.
The doctor reported the case to the health department before pointing out that having the measles as a child doesn’t necessarily mean that one can’t get the virus again later in life.
What is notable about this case is how the outbreak was spread through casual contact. As spring turns to summer and many within the hip hop community make plans to attend shows, concerts, and other events, this means coming into close contact with hundreds of people.
In order to prevent the spread of measles, health officials urge everyone who is medically able to get vaccinated.
Steve McGraw, Oakland County emergency medical services director, points out that two doses are recommended for maximum effectiveness and urges the public to get another immunization if there is any question as to whether or not you had two doses.
“Nothing is as good as certainty. Unless you know you’ve had two, just get a second one,” McGraw said.
Most doctors offices provide the vaccine for free or at a minimal cost. The Department of Health and Human Services also has a website to locate vaccine providers by zip code: https://www.vaccines.gov/getting/where.