As of May 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed 839 individual cases of measles in the United States since the beginning of the year.
This is the highest number of measles cases since 1994, which the CDC had reported a substantial 958 cases across 39 states.
To put this in perspective, during the measles outbreak of 1994, “Friends” made its debut on NBC, O.J. Simpson was arrested for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa.
The current measles resurgence represents a huge setback in public health since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. Now, recognize that the vast majority of Salt Lake Community College’s student population was born after the measles outbreak of 1994.
Symptoms of measles include high fever, congestion, cough, red eyes, white spots within the mouth and a rash. Measles symptoms last approximately two weeks.
How can SLCC students take the necessary precautions to avoid coming in contact with measles?
Terri Mehlhoff, SLCC Center for Health and Counseling’s family nurse practitioner, says students should consider where the outbreaks have occurred and the ratio of people affected to the size of the U.S. population.
“Keep in mind the number of cases in the population … [is] not an epidemic, and there have not been any reported cases in Utah as of yet,” she says.
However, if you are still concerned, Mehlhoff recommends that you check your immunization status.
Most regularly immunized children in the U.S. have already had the recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine, which Mehlhoff says is adequate in terms of improving prevention. Most of SLCC’s student population falls under this first category.
Nonetheless, Mehlhoff says the Center of Health and Counseling is not about arbitrarily immunizing people.
“We only give immunizations to people who show low immunity on an MMR titer [a blood test that measures antibodies],” she says. “We can do titers in our clinics for $36.”
Mehlhoff recommends you find record of your two doses of the MMR vaccines and sleep well knowing you are protected.
The Center of Health and Counseling is located at the Taylorsville, South City and Jordan campuses. Students can call 801-957-4268 during business hours to schedule a medical, counseling or massage appointment.