Measles on the rise in the US



Erin Simonek

MEASLES from on Vimeo.

Every year in the United States there are a couple hundred measles cases. In 2019, the country already has 555 reported measles cases.

Epidemiology professor for the College of Public Health, Dr. Tara Smith said, “The biggest issue in this are that people are not vaccinating. If you enter a room where somebody has had the virus and you enter two hours later, you can still become infected.”

The Kent State measles outbreak of 1989 was what influenced the university to require the vaccine of measles, mumps and rubella.

Senior Physician for Kent State Health Services, Dr. Jennifer D’Abreau said, “If a student has not turned vaccinations in or turned in a reason for why they are not becoming vaccinated, then we as the Health Center can actually ‘de-register’ a student.”

Smith said one of the leading causes of measles spreading is international travel, which has been a major concern within the recent years.

D’Abreau agreed with Smith, stating “unimmunized travelers” are the main reason for the spread of cases throughout the United States

“We are a much more global and universal society,” said D’Abreau. “Our current immunity rate at Kent State is around 91% so we are within that heard immunity protection.”

If a measles epidemic were to come to the Portage County area, Smith said the Portage County Public Health Department would be able to isolate those infected and quarantine those who have been exposed.

“We do the necessary testing’s to confirm our suspicions,” said D’Abreau, “we collaborate very well with the local health departments. We then decide the next step.”  

D’Abreau said if an epidemic were to arise locally, she said education would be an efficient way to help the outbreak. “Educate the public, the students, encourage them to become vaccinated.”

While Smith does not deny a risk with vaccinations, she posted the scenario that everyone one does is a type of risk.

“People eschew vaccines due to a number of reasons,” Smith said. “I try to see why those people do not trust vaccines and have a discussion about those issues.”

Smith said Portage County is higher in percentage of those vaccinated compared to Summit and Cuyahoga County.   

D’Abreau encourages those who are weary about vaccines to become educated on the benefits. “The research has not supported that vaccines cause autism so make sure you’re basing your opinion and reasons on fact.”

Erin Simonek is the digital content producer and TV2 reporter. Contact Erin at [email protected].