Measles | St. Louis Public Radio

Measles

Vaccinations not only protect your health, they protect the health of the community by slowing or stopping the spread of illness.

But Missouri now has some of the lowest measles vaccination rates in the nation, and that’s especially troubling for families with children who can’t get the shots for medical reasons.

A person prepares a measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which protects against 93-97 percent of measles cases. Health officials say a case has been reported in Jefferson County.
Matthew Lotz / U.S. Air Force

The St. Louis Department of Health is urging people to receive a measles shot before the busy summer travel season begins.

The U.S. largely eradicated measles decades ago thanks to effective immunizations, but the disease has had a resurgence of recent years as more people choose to not vaccinate their children.

Many of the outbreaks nationwide this year have occurred after people have traveled to countries where the disease is more common and spread it to under-vaccinated communities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A person prepares a measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which protects against 93-97 percent of measles cases. Health officials say a case has been reported in Jefferson County.
Matthew Lotz / U.S. Air Force

Health officials in Jefferson County are trying to find people who may have come in contact with a person there who has caught measles.

The person caught the virus after traveling, according to officials at the Jefferson County Health Department. The department is “working directly with the case to identify potential contacts and make arrangements for follow up immunizations and care if necessary,” officials said in a release.

Measles infects the respiratory system and can cause deafness, blindness and can even be fatal in some rare cases. People who contract the measles develop a distinctive red, splotchy rash over their bodies. There is no specific antiviral treatment or medicine for measles, but giving a person a vaccine soon after they’ve been infected may lessen symptoms.

 Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Measles have not yet reached the St. Louis area but, in an effort to thwart an outbreak, area clinics are reaching out to a group of parents whose children aren’t fully vaccinated. These children missed their vaccinations not for medical or religious reasons but because, quite simply, they may have forgotten.   

That’s now a relatively easy problem to address because of the widespread use of Electronic Health Records, or EHR’s.

Dr. Ken Haller talks about vaccination safety with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 10, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Rumors of a link between autism and the measles vaccine persist, although the original paper that claimed the link, as well as its author, have been discredited.

Pediatrician Weighs In On Vaccine Safety

Feb 10, 2015
Dr. Ken Haller talks about vaccination safety with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 10, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

The measles vaccine is safe and effective, pediatrician Ken Haller said; there’s no reason not to get it.

“This virus is very tenacious,” Haller told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday. “If someone with measles walks into a room and even just breathes, it can stay in the air for two hours. Anyone coming into that room who’s susceptible has a 90 percent chance of getting sick from it.”

Measles has not reached the St. Louis area this year, but that hasn’t kept it from stoking fears.  

Local public health officials are encouraging parents to make sure their children’s vaccinations are up-to-date by checking with their individual health providers. With worries that last month’s outbreak in Disneyland could continue to spread, officials in Illinois are investigating the source of five infants diagnosed with measles at a day care center outside Chicago.

No vaccine against rumors

Jan 17, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 17, 2011 - When Tom Wombacher first heard media reports about vaccines being potentially harmful and that some celebrities had stopped giving them to their children, he had his suspicions about the reliability of the information.

"I didn't think it was completely accurate," said the 33-year-old Overland resident whose son Nolan was born in last May.

Still, it gave him pause. He found himself surfing the internet on the topic.