Campus Life / Health / Local

Norfolk State cautions campus community about measles

This illustration provides a 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles. Those tubercular studs colorized maroon, are known as H-proteins (hemagglutinin), and those colorized gray are referred to as F-proteins (fusion). The F-protein is responsible for fusion of virus and host cell membranes, viral penetration, and hemolysis, and the H-protein is responsible for binding of virus to cells. Both types of proteinaceous studs are embedded in the envelope’s lipid bilayer. Photo from the CDC.

We currently have the highest number of measles cases in the U.S. since endemic measles was eliminated in 2000.

Here’s what the NSU campus needs to know:

Norfolk State University complies with Virginia Code 23-7.5, which requires all full-time students to provide documentation of health history and immunizations. Prior to enrollment, students are required to be immunized for a variety of diseases, including measles.

What are measles? A highly contagious viral illness spread by touch of contaminated surfaces or direct airborne droplets from sneezing, coughing.  Exposure is likely to result in acute illness about 14 days later with high fever (up to 105 degrees), fatigue, cough, runny nose, red eyes and spotty rash-starting from the head and spreading to the body.

Why outbreaks? Larger than usual numbers of children are not being vaccinated due to misinformation that vaccines cause autism or illness; lack of firsthand knowledge of harmful effects of viral childhood infections, ear infections, diarrhea and potentially deadly complications of encephalitis(brain infection), pneumonia. Current outbreaks are linked to international travelers bringing the virus from other countries resulting in infections in susceptible persons.

Who is at highest risk? Unvaccinated children; persons born from 1960 through the 1970s, who were given the old vaccine; persons traveling internationally – especially to Japan, Israel, Philippines, Ukraine, Brazil – where current outbreaks are occurring. Persons born before 1957 are considered immune due to prior exposure.

Who should be vaccinated? Anyone that was born after 1960 and who has not had two MMR vaccines, should get a vaccine or have immune titers done. Pregnant women, persons on chemotherapy or persons with HIV should not be vaccinated because of the live virus vaccine. Talk to your doctor first if you are on chronic medications.

How can I determine if I’ve been vaccinated? First, check your immunization records to make sure you’ve had two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Most everyone received this vaccine in childhood. If you’re unable to find your records and are unsure whether or not you’ve been fully vaccinated, you should discuss your risk factors with your physician. The MMR vaccine is safe, and there is no harm in getting another dose even if you may be already immune to measles, mumps or rubella. Pregnant women, persons on chemotherapy or persons with HIV should not be vaccinated because of the live virus vaccine.

What if I plan to travel? Measles remains a common disease in many parts of the world. Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting infected when they travel internationally.

How should I protect against measles before international travel? Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days. Acceptable presumptive evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following: vaccination record, laboratory results or birth in the United States before 1957.

What should I watch for once I return from international travel? If you get a fever and a rash in the three weeks after you return home from traveling, call a doctor. Tell the doctor that you traveled.

Where are resources?  Spartan Health Center (MMR vaccine not available in office), CDC  website, your  family doctor,  City of Norfolk health department or your local health department clinic,  Norfolk Travel Clinic/Passport Health If you have health insurance, your local pharmacy can also provide MMR vaccination.