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Calaveras Health Officer Updates About Measles Case

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San Andreas, CA — Calaveras County Health Officer Dr. Dean Kelaita delivered the board of supervisors an overview of the local response to a measles case, and gave an update on the child impacted.

The girl diagnosed with measles had been on an international flight that landed at San Francisco Airport on March 13. The following day the family returned to Calaveras County, and the girl became sick at their Valley Springs home.

On the 15th, the child was taken to Mark Twain Medical Center for an evaluation and she was diagnosed with a routine virus. The next day, the 16th, the child was taken back to Mark Twain Medical Center to the ER. However, since she had to stay in the waiting area for 30-45 minutes, the family became frustrated, and she was then taken to an ER at Sutter Amador Hospital in Jackson. She was then evaluated and again told that it was a routine viral illness, and released back home.

On Sunday, March 17, the mother took the child to UC Davis Medical Center where she was admitted to the hospital because a rash had developed. It was there that she was diagnosed with measles.

Dr. Kelaita says, “During the time between when the child became sick, and was finally diagnosed with measles, there were significant exposures to multiple members of our community. The health department conducted a contact investigation with over 40 interviews with members of the community. We had to find out who was potentially exposed, we had to assess whether they were vaccinated against measles, and whether they were immune.”

There was also a “provider alert” that was sent to doctors and clinics in the area so that they could be on the lookout for other cases.

Dr. Kelaita adds, “We’ve communicated with the local hospital, Mark Twain Medical Center, and through the health department in Amador County, Sutter Amador Hospital, where they have had to also assess all the potentially exposed people, generate a line listing, and all of those people have to be monitored for symptoms of measles.”

Thankfully, Dr. Kelaita reports “the child is recovering,” and there have been no secondary cases at this time. “We dodged a bullet,” he added.

The girl had not been vaccinated for measles. Sometimes vaccines are controversial and parents fear they can have adverse effects.

Vaccines are required for students to enter school in California, but there are medical exemptions. We reported previously that Tuolumne and Calaveras counties lag behind the state average when it comes to vaccinations. Data from 2017 showed that between 88-89 percent of children in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties were vaccinated, and the state average was nearly 96-percent.

Dr. Kelaita notes that measles vaccines are given at age one, and again right before kindergarten. He adds, “If children are under one year of age, they are very vulnerable (if exposed to measles). Pregnant women are also very vulnerable because exposure to measles during pregnancy can cause birth defects to a developing fetus. So, this is serious business and an example of what happens when the community is not adequately vaccinated against routine child diseases.”

The Supervisors praised Dr. Kelaita, and the public health department, for the quick response and actions following the diagnosis.

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