Health officials hope measles stays out of North Dakota | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Health officials hope measles stays out of North Dakota

May 10, 2019

As of Monday, there have been 764 confirmed cases of measles in 23 states.

North Dakota is not one of them, and health officials are hoping it stays that way. Molly Howell is immunization program manager with the North Dakota Department of Health. She says currently just over 93 percent of schoolchildren in the state are vaccinated - but ideally, officials would like that rate to be at least 95 percent. Howell says there are certain "pockets" in the state where the rate is much lower, and therefore at a greater risk.

"Some people are unable to be vaccinated, like young infants, or people who have certain immunocompromised conditions or allergies to certain components of the vaccine. So then it's even more important for the people around them to be vaccinated so we can prevent the spread of the disease in our community."

Howell says measles is a serious disease on its own - but much of the concern over the growing amount of cases are the complications that can arise from contracting it.

"One out of every thousand cases of measles would develop what's called incephalitis, which can result in brain damage. One or two out of every thousand children infected with measles will die."

Howell says measles is caused by a virus and is highly contagious. It can cause fever as high as 105, as well as cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis and a rash.