Friday, April 24, 2015

The measles are back in Spokane County… what now?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 2:40 PM

The measles have arrived in Spokane. An adult employee of the Qdoba Mexican restaurant on South Grand Avenue has been diagnosed with the first Spokane County case of measles since 1994. No one knows how the measles got here but KREM 2 has the scoop on where they’ve been since arriving, if you’re worried.

You know who’s not worried about the measles? City Council Member Mike Fagan, who caught heat earlier this year for his anti-vax beliefs. 

“What’s the big deal? Across the nation we see several hundred cases a year,” says Fagan.

In modern America, most of us are vaccinated against the measles, though in Spokane County schools between 2006 and 2010, the vaccine opt-out rate was 9 percent.

Fagan is pretty sure he was vaccinated long ago. His children were vaccinated. His baby granddaughter? She’s vaccinated, too. If you aren’t as lucky as the Fagan clan, though, I have you covered with a quick measles experience FAQ:

How do I get the measles?
The easiest way is to be in the same room as someone who has them. The measles spread when the infected person coughs, breathes, sneezes or talks, and you breathe it in. Also, the measles can hang around and infect people for up to two hours after the infected person leaves.

When will I know?
If you are infected, you probably won’t find out right away. According to the Spokane Regional Health District, the measles don't show themselves for seven to 21 days. So if you were at Qdoba between 3 pm and 11 pm Sunday, April 12, my advice would be: Don’t trip. Maybe you’ll get the measles, maybe you won’t. Probably not the best time to plan an impromptu theme park vacation, though. Just kick back and know that you’ll be better able to assess by no later than May 2 whether you’ve been infected.

What happens if I am infected?
The measles start off casually with a mild fever accompanied by a cough, a runny nose, red eyes, and a sore throat. A couple days later white spots appear in the mouth. Then a couple days after that, a raging dark red rash appears at the hairline. The rash creeps down the face to the neck. From there it crawls down the body, branching out across the arms, legs and feet until the patient is pretty much covered in measles. Once the rash appears, the fever shoots up to dangerous, delirium-inducing levels and everything is just totally miserable and awful.

Will I die?

Most likely, no. But, it is possible. “About three out of 10 people who get measles will develop one or more complications including pneumonia, ear infections or diarrhea,” says SRHD Public Information Officer Kim Papich in a press release. “One out of 1,000 children with measles will develop inflammation of the brain, and for every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.”

What’s next?
The good news is that once you make it through the measles misery, you’re home free. Like a vaccinated person or someone born prior to 1957, people who have suffered through the measles are immune for life.

For his part, Fagan worries that these measles case will help bolster the case for required vaccinations.

“What we saw this year is a massive push across the United States to remove vaccine exemptions,” says Fagan. “My question to those liberals out there is where is the social justice and equity for those parents who would like to exercise parental rights and discretion? Where is that social justice when it comes to the rights of the parents or the individual to make that decision?”

Fagan just wants to live in a society where we have the freedom to catch the measles if we so choose. Is that really too much to ask? 
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