The recent measles outbreak in the U.S., which lasted from January 1 to May 23, 2014, is still fresh in the minds of many people. However, it seems that the dreaded virus hasn’t left the country for good as yet another suspected case of measles was reported on September 11, aboard a cruise ship on Alaskan waters. Fortunately, Outbreak News Today says that this particular case shouldn’t be a cause of alarm:
“This incident presents no direct risk to any Alaska communities at this time. The affected crew member did not disembark in Alaska, and the timing of illness is such that any individuals who came into contact with the patient onboard the ship could not have developed symptoms or spread the disease while in Alaska, if they disembarked.”
Still, this doesn’t mean that people should remain complacent, given that the measles virus is highly contagious, as evidenced by the large number of cases reported in Ohio, California, and New York earlier this year. There’s also the fact that measles has no cure and can only be treated with bed rest and medication to relieve its symptoms. If people don’t want Alaska to suffer a large-scale measles outbreak, it’s best for them to get immunized at a respected health facility, like Primary Care Associates’ Eagle River urgent care clinic.
It would also help if Alaskans keep a sharp eye out for signs of measles infection, which, unfortunately, can be much harder than it sounds. Measles bears plenty of similarities to most respiratory diseases, at least at its early stages, because its symptoms include high fever, a runny nose, a sore throat, and a hacking cough. Once the recognizable red spots in the mouth and the itchy rashes in the rest of the body start appearing later, the disease will have already reached its critical stage.
Providers of urgent care in Eagle River, near Lake Otis, and elsewhere in Alaska can offer vaccines to people, especially those who are traveling to places confirmed to have a high incidence of measles. Other than that, though, efforts to prevent a measles outbreak in Alaska ultimately fall on the hands of the citizens themselves. Infected individuals must be quarantined for a few weeks, or until the rashes and spots disappear, to protect the rest of the community from the virus. Being updated on measles advisories would also help.
Whether or not the isolated, unconfirmed measles case in Alaska is a sign of things to come remains to be seen. Regardless of whether it’s a false alarm or not, people should take such an incident seriously and be ready in case the disease really comes back.
(Source: Alaska: Suspected measles case on cruise ship, Outbreak News Today, September 16, 2014)