An unvaccinated Sioux Falls child under the age of 10 has been reported with measles, the Department of Health said today. The investigation is still underway but the case has no travel history and is not known to be connected with the measles outbreak in Mitchell that totals 13 cases.
Individuals who were at Holy Spirit Elementary School in Sioux Falls on Jan. 22 may have been exposed and are urged to check their immunization records. For those in need of vaccination, the state Department of Health and the Sioux Falls City Health Department have scheduled a free vaccine clinic from noon to 4 p.m. at the City Health Department, 521 N. Main Ave. No appointment is needed.
“I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is for people to check their records and make sure their vaccinations are up to date,” said Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the department. “If you are not vaccinated you are at risk for measles as these South Dakota cases and the current Disneyland outbreak so clearly demonstrate.”
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease transmitted from one person to another by direct contact or airborne by droplet spread. It is a serious illness that causes permanent brain damage in one in every 1,000 patients and is fatal in three out of every 1,000 patients.
The best protection against the disease is the measles vaccine (MMR). For full protection, two doses of the vaccine are recommended, the first at age 12 months and a second by age four. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are required for students entering schools, child care and colleges in South Dakota. Individuals born before 1957 are considered to have natural immunity because the disease was so widespread then and do not need vaccination.
More information about measles is available on the department’s website at http://doh.sd.gov/diseases/infectious/diseasefacts/Measles.aspx.