Dr: Measles outbreak ‘just a plane ride away’


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan doctors are touting the effectiveness of the measles vaccine after state officials linked an outbreak on the east side to one man.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials told CNN that a man from New York traveled to southeast Michigan without knowing he was contagious. State officials said they connected 38 measles cases in Oakland and Wayne counties to that traveler. Those reportedly involved people ranging in age from 8 months to 63 years.

“Measles is the single most contagious vaccine-preventable disease that we have out there,” said Dr. Dan McGee, a pediatric hospitalist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

He urged everyone to double check that they have received the vaccine.

“Any outbreak is just a plane ride away,” McGee told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “Any illness that is in one part of the state can easily come over to the other part of the state and affect people who are not immunized.”

McGee remembers the visible pain the measles has inflicted on past patients. He explained that symptoms begin with a rash on the head that spreads around the body. Then cold-like symptoms set in.

“You have a really bad runny nose, you have really bad teary eyes and you are miserable from this illness. There’s not a child that has measles that’s not miserable,” McGee said.

There is not a treatment for measles, he explained.  

The viral infection generally lasts for about a week, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says complications can lead to pneumonia, lifelong brain damage or even death.

The vaccine is 97% effective in preventing the measles, according to McGee.

“The CDC says if you’re in the room with somebody else that has measles and you’re not immunized, there’s a 90% chance that you’re going to get that,” he added.

For him, the choice of whether to vaccinate or not is obvious.

“If you’re worried, get the vaccines and get the vaccine for your children,” he said. “Then there’s no worry.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

24 Hour News 8 Links