Health, school officials push vaccines amid measles outbreak

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WICHITA, Kan. --- Health and school officials are urging Wichita parents to make sure their children get measles vaccinations.

The number of confirmed measles cases in Sedgwick County has now reached six, and with school beginning in less than a month, it's especially important to make sure students are protected from the highly contagious and dangerous disease.

Kansas state law requires students get their necessary immunizations before they begin classes. This year, the message is even more urgent, given the recent measles outbreak.

"Measles is something we haven't really dealt with for a number of years," said Kathy Hubka, the coordinator of health services for the district. "And now we have it."

As parents enroll their kids in the next coming weeks, the district will have nurses on hand.

"So we'll be able to answer questions from parents whether their child needs immunizations," Hubka said.

"That's the important thing, that everyone is vaccinated," said Adrienne Byrne-Lutz, the health department's interim director. "Because particularly with measles, if somebody isn't vaccinated, then they're exposed.

Byrne-Lutz says 90 percent of unvaccinated people who come into contact with measles will end up getting the virus.

Symptoms begin as a fever, runny nose and watery eyes. After one to two weeks, they turn into a rash.

"People are contagious four days before they get the rash and four days after they get the rash," Byrne-Lutz said. That's why she believes it's only a matter of time before the six confirmed cases increases.

"It might not seem like a big number, but it really is, because we will have more cases," Byrne-Lutz said.

If a child experiences any of these symptoms, parents are asked not to go to the emergency room, so the measles doesn't spread. Instead, they should call a doctor or the health department to set up an appointment.


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