Measles protocol urged by healthcare officials
Last updated 2/18/2019 at 1:53pm
Lincoln Hospital and Clinics, along with Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center, the Lincoln County Health Department and the Washington State Department of Health are asking people to stay home if they are showing signs of measles. The recent measles outbreak in Washington has spread, and health officials urge immunization against the highly contagious disease.
“If you have been exposed to measles or feel ill, stay home to help prevent the spread of the disease and contact your healthcare provider,” says the Washington State Department of Health website.
The recommendation includes all locations for Lincoln Hospital and Clinics and Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center. The public hospital districts are encouraging patients to call before they come to any district location if they are showing signs of measles. “This will help to prevent further spread of infection to other patients and employees,” said the Lincoln clinics’ manager, Gabrielle Chain. “We will make a care plan over the phone and ensure you get the care you need.” Chain said they will make accommodations for patients showing signs of measles by scheduling them at the end of the day when other patients have left, having strict cleaning regimens and, if needed, creating isolation rooms at the hospital and clinics.
Symptoms for measles include a high fever, runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes and a rash that typically starts at the hairline on the forehead and moves down the body. The rash usually starts 3 to 5 days after other symptoms begin. There is no prescription medication to treat measles, and treatment usually includes over-the-counter relief for symptoms of fever and muscle aches. The virus generally lasts 2-3 weeks.
“This is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air through a cough or sneeze,” said Odessa clinic manager, Barbara Schlimmer. “Germs are shared by touching the same objects or surfaces.”
The best protection against measles is the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella viruses. The vaccine is safe and effective. The recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles according to the Centers for Disease Control. Schlimmer noted that the vast majority of those who recently had contracted measles in Washington state were unvaccinated. “It is very important for the parents of those children with an unvaccinated status in our communities to consider having their child vaccinated.”
Community members who would like to be immunized need to call the Davenport, Reardan, Wilbur or Odessa clinic locations to schedule their immunization. Immunization is available to everyone ages 12 months to adult and immunization status for individuals can be found online at http://www.Wa.MyIR.net. “If you are unsure of your immunization status, receiving an additional dose of MMR is not harmful as long as there are no contraindications to the vaccine,” said Merilla Hopkins, Director of Pharmacy at Lincoln Hospital.
Lincoln Hospital and Clinics are also taking measures to protect employees by verifying immunization status and holding an immunization clinic for employees of the district. “Our staff are the front line should an outbreak occur here,” said Jennifer Larmer, Chief Clinical Officer for Lincoln Hospital and Clinics. “We want to ensure patients and staff are protected as best as possible.” All healthcare staff members receive regular training for communicable diseases such as measles.
For more information about measles in Lincoln County, contact the Lincoln County Health Department at 509-725-1001.
Davenport Clinic: 509-725-7501
Reardan Clinic: 509-796-2737
Wilbur Clinic: 509-647-5321
Lincoln Hospital: 509-725-7101
Odessa Clinic: 509-982-2614
Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center: 509-982-2611