With cases of the measles making its way to Pennsylvania, North East School District’s nurses are encouraging parents and guardians to be mindful of the disease and seek medical attention if they suspect their child, or any family member, has contracted the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles, also called rubeola, is a highly contagious viral infection which is spread through airborne transmission. The measles is preventable by vaccine and treatable by a medical professional.
The CDC has announced reported cases of measles in Pittsburgh. There have been reported outbreaks in several other states across the country.
“Measles is very contagious and it starts out looking like a cold. The two have similar symptoms,” said Jan Brabender, a nurse with the district.
A letter detailing the symptoms of measles was recently sent home with students in the district.
The symptoms include a fever of 101 or higher, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. A red, blotchy rash appears on the face and spreads body-wide three to seven days after symptoms begin.
Other symptoms may include a loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes and diarrhea.
“Parents should air on the side of caution,” Brabender said. “If their child is sick, they should take him or her to their family physician for a diagnosis.”
Brabender suggested that anyone who isn’t vaccinated against measles and plans to travel to a state where there’s been a reported outbreak, or anyone traveling abroad, consider vaccination.
“People who haven’t been immunized are being exposed to it and then bringing it back with them,” she said. “That’s how it is spreading.
“It’s scary,” Brabender added. “There’s been a lot of stuff happening. Recently, two college campuses have reported outbreaks of the mumps as well.”
Brabender also said if the district had a confirmed case of measles in one of the buildings, children who are not vaccinated will be excluded from the building for their own protection.
“That is standard procedure,” she said. “Parents who choose not to vaccinate their child are aware that their child would be excluded from school if there was an outbreak. It’s for their own safety.”
The Department of Health and Education requires that students entering kindergarten have two doses of live attenuated measles vaccine administered at 12 months of age or older and 2 doses of the live attenuated mumps vaccine. The vaccines are frequently combined together with Rubella into an MMR vaccine that is given to children at least 12 months of age.
In the North East School District, the only exceptions are medical and religious reasons. Parents and guardians must submit written statements with their reasoning to the school district.
Anyone with questions about the measles should contact the nurse’s office at any of the NESD schools.