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    Measles found on Alaska cruise ship

    A group of passengers who may have contacted the patient disembarked in Seward from the Norwegian Jewel on Monday. On Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services warned health care providers to look out for measles symptoms like rashes, runny noses, fevers and red eyes from passengers who may have contracted the disease.

    Health officials called the risk of secondary cases low. The patient was at the tail end of infectiousness when she boarded, officials said, and was placed in medical isolation shortly after boarding the ship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Aug. 6.

    “The reason why we notify health care providers in a situation like this, even though it’s a low-risk, is measles is so highly contagious,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin told the Empire in a Tuesday phone interview. “It spreads through the air through respiratory secretions: coughs, sneezes.”

    The ship docked in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay before the cruise ended in Seward.

    Several days prior to the cruise, the patient reported waking up with a rash, fever and cold-like symptoms after a trip to Thailand, according to DHSS. The patient’s parents, traveling with her, reported that she had never received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

    On Aug. 8, the patient, a 16-year-old non-U.S. citizen whose name is being withheld, was transferred to PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center for care. Doctors diagnosed her with measles Aug. 10, several hours after her discharge from the hospital. At that point, she was no longer considered contagious.

    Though the disease is highly contagious, the risk of passing it on is very low after four days after the onset of a rash, according to DHSS. Health officials believe the patient boarded the ship the fourth day after rash symptoms began, giving them reason to believe she wasn’t highly contagious while in contact with anyone who may still be in Alaska.

    The disease has a 7-21 day incubation period. The first day a passenger may show symptoms would have been Monday, seven days after encountering the measles patient. Anyone who contracted the virus is expected to show symptoms before Aug. 27.

    Thanks to vaccines, the measles were declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, McLaughlin said. It’s rare now to see a case that doesn’t originate from outside of the country.

    The last two recorded cases of measles in Alaska both occurred in middle-aged people, McLaughlin said, who may not have been vaccinated for measles (MMR vaccines weren’t required until 1957). In 2000, a middle-aged Anchorage resident contracted a case. In 2015, a middle-aged Fairbanks resident was diagnosed after a trip to Mongolia

    Alaska’s MMR vaccination rates for measles are below the national average. The CDC recommends routine vaccination with a two-dose series of MMR, the first at 12–15 months old and the second at four-six years old.

    According to the latest numbers, from 2016, 86 percent of Alaska children age 19-35 months had received one or more doses of the MMR vaccine. The national average is 91 percent. Alaska requires two doses of the vaccine for school entry at kindergarten, though there are religious and medical exemptions.

    According to the latest numbers, 89 percent of Alaska kindergartners had received two MMR doses in 2016. The national average is 94 percent.

    Earlier this year, Alaska suffered an outbreak of mumps, another illness the MMR vaccine has been showed to prevent.

    McLaughlin stressed that measles, though considered eliminated in the U.S., can be very dangerous. Out of 1,000 people who contract the virus, two to three will die from it. A higher rate will experience life-changing complications.

    “It’s really important for all Alaskans to understand the tremendous benefit of vaccinating their children and making sure they’re vaccinated. Not only against measles, but all of the vaccine-preventable diseases that we currently have vaccinations for,” he said.

    By Kevin Gullufsen, Juneau Empire
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to https://www.cruisecrazies.com

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    Not good!  Back in the old days we always had to have the measles, and polio, and other shots right in the lunchroom at school.  We all lined up for the shots.  Wonder if my shot is any good after all these years...don't think so... I got the measles anyway, my brothers all had it before we had to have the shots...also had the mumps on both sides when I got my first job at 16. Worked a week or two and then had to call in and say I had the mumps...LOL  Not good.  We have had a huge amount of measles here in MN lately in the Somalian area...most are not getting shots.  

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    Back in the day there was no MMR vaccination.  I had measles, mumps and rubella before the shots came out.  Having had 6 kids in the house, we could never escape the childhood diseases when they came home from school with them.  Supposedly one has immunity after contracting the disease.

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    That's right - I had all three of those diseases as well, before the vaccines came out.  That was when the doctor would make house calls. (boy, am I aging myself!)    And the polio vaccine was a yearly shot. 

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    Yes, it was  hard not to get them before the shots.  All of my brothers had them, and shared most of it with me. My sister is 10 years younger than I, so I think she got all the shots when she was a baby. I was trying to find out with my mom if I had chicken pox as a child, but she didn't remember.  My brothers did so I might have...was just wondering since now they want us to get the shingles shot.   

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    my sister, who is 6 years younger than me, came home from school with chicken pox. She didn't have many pox on her body though. Well I caught it from her and had 3 times as many pox including some in my mouth would you believe and then my mother contracted it while taking care of us and as an adult she had it full blown. Hardly a place on her body without a spot.  My Mom and I had a few lasting scars from them too.

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    Yes - that is one disease that I dread!  I got the vaccine the day I turned 60, which is the earliest they let you get it!  I do hear that they have come out with a newer and more effective vaccine, but Medicare does not cover it so far. 

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