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First case of measles in Georgia
CT0P Screen Shot 2015 02 19 at 11.03.44 AM
Measles Graphic

The first case of measles has been reported in Georgia as an infected infant was admitted to Egleston at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA).

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the case is the first in the state since 2012.

The child arrived in Atlanta from Kyrgyzstan and has since been released from the hospital.

Officials are working to identify anyone who may have been exposed to the child in order to prevent further spread of the disease.

There is no such thing as being geographically isolated, said Dr. Larry W. Anderson of Dawsonville-based Anderson Family Medicine. The CDC can make recommendations regarding vaccines, but not mandate them. It is up to individual states.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been an 18 percent increase of reported cases from Jan. 1 to Feb. 6, 2015, in the United States.

We pretty much eradicated measles in the United States, said Nancy Nydam, Media Relations for Georgia DPH, but the problem is that the disease is still endemic in other parts of the world.

According to Nydam, a German study completed roughly 20 years ago showed a connection

between vaccinations and autism. As a result, the vaccination rates in European countries plummeted, and there are a lot of infectious diseases worldwide.

Georgias requirement is for two doses of measles and mumps vaccine and one dose of rubella (MMR) for children entering a Georgia public school for the first time. Typically given at 12 to 15 months, a booster vaccine is later administered at 4 to 6 years of age. The second

dose may be given before the age of 4, provided it has been four weeks since the first dose.

There are two exceptions from vaccinations: medical and religious. If a child has a compromised immune system, for example, she may be exempt, provided her parent can present a doctors note so indicating. This exemption is renewed annually. A sworn affidavit

stating that due to religious reasons, a child does not have to receive immunizations

is the other way to avoid immunization. Fewer than two percent of religious

exemptions have been allowed within the state, according to Nydam.

In the 2014-15 school year, 98.3 percent of Georgia students are vaccinated.

Jeannie Edwards, Dawson County school health coordinator, indicated that there are 86 exemptions and 97.5 percent of Dawson County students are immunized.

The majority of exemptions are religious, Edwards said.

The injection is made up of a live virus -- a very weakened form, according to Nydam -- which triggers an immune response.

Nydam indicated that during 1963-1968, one of the vaccines administered was not a live version, so it was ineffective.

She added that it is possible that those adults might not be immune.

Individuals born before 1957, however, most likely have had the disease

and are therefore immune.

According to Larry Anderson, the Georgia Registry of Immunizations (GRITS) maintains shot

records for individuals and may provide information for those who are unsure if they have been immunized.

Measles are highly contagious, and Edwards added that, it can live on objects up to two hours.

Infants and toddlers are particularly at risk as they are too young to be vaccinated.

It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and

death," added Edwards.

If parents, grandparents are not immunized, they may transmit the disease to the young children.

Pregnant women are also at risk as the disease could lead to birth defects and termination

of pregnancy.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDCs National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that people dont always know they are infectious because measles can

be spread before the rash is evident.

The disease is so contagious, added Schuchat, that 90 percent of the people close to the

person who arent immune will also be infected.

Controversy regarding immunization exists.

Anderson, however, said that the risks of side effects of the vaccine are extremely low. Edwards and Nydam, along with Anderson, encourage immunization.

Vaccination is the best protection.

It is, according to Nydam, 97-98 percent effective. She explained that the flu shot has only been 23 percent effective as it is designed to promote

immunity against one strain but mutates and renders the shot ineffective.

In my opinion, yes, people should receive the vaccine. My children are and my grandchildren are [vaccinated], said Anderson.