Measles in Portage County is Still a Mystery

One of two possible measles cases in Portage County has returned with negative results. The other case’s results have not been released.

According to a news release from the Portage County Health and Human Services Department, the unknown case is not likely to be measles since the person had not traveled to a state or country with active cases of the disease.

Jen Sorenson, administrative director of Student Health Services at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, urges students to check their immunization history.

She said international students should check if their country has the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination. Generally children receive the vaccination at age 1 and a booster before age 5.

“I think that the message I would have is, prevention is the key,” Sorenson said. “Review your immunization records and if you have not been immunized, consider it so you can prevent any exposure in the future.”

According to USA TODAY immunization database and the Stevens Point Journal, 94 percent of students in the Stevens Point Area Public School District are immunized.

Melanie Baehr, nursing director for the Portage County Health and Human Services Department. Photo courtesy of Chris Mueller.

Melanie Baehr, nursing director for the Portage County Health and Human Services Department. Photo courtesy of Chris Mueller.

Sorenson said herd immunization will protect people from the virus even if people travel to places with outbreaks.

“If you have received two MMR vaccinations, you have greater than 95 percent protection against measles,” Sorenson said. “Very highly infectious, the rate is 9 out of 10 susceptible (unimmunized) people who have close contact to a patient with measles will contract the disease,” Sorenson said.

Children under age 1 run a high risk for contracting the disease if they come in contact with anyone who has it. This leaves parents with children in that category worried about what could happen when traveling or if an outbreak would occur.

“My understanding is that the Geier study, the source of the supposed link between vaccination and autism, was wholly discredited and that subsequent studies have failed to reproduce that study’s results,” said Cary Elza, assistant professor of Media Studies. “It amazes me that people are willing to gamble on Jenny McCarthy’s word in the fact of really shoddy research.”

At The Helen R. Godfrey University Child Learning and Care Center, the staff takes precautions.

“We are always extra cautious with disinfecting when we hear of bug’s going around, and we have been cleaning more than normal just as a precaution,” said Rachel Hansard, two-year-old teacher and student services specialist.

“We follow the state procedures for communicable diseases,” said Kari Camacho, 4-year-old teacher and student services specialist. “This outbreak has not become an issue in this area. Checking past immunizations is key to staying protected and keeping this issue out of our area. We have a wonderful public health system in this country that is able to put into place those quarantines and the necessary measures to limit the number of exposures.”


Emily Margeson


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