In Nearby Outbreaks, Old Diseases Many Doctors Have Vaccinated For, But Never Treated

Many younger doctors in Tennessee have never seen a case of measles or mumps in person, because vaccinations have been widespread for decades.  The state health department now wants to make sure they’re up to speed.  This follows an outbreak of measles in North Carolina, and one of mumps in Virginia.

The director of the department’s immunization program, Dr. Kelly Moore, says they want doctors to watch for the fever and rash that come with measles.  If they spot it, Moore says they need to isolate the patient and contact state officials.

“Most physicians and nurse practitioners who are in the younger generations have never seen a case of measles.  Measles does not circulate naturally in the United States.  We only see cases related to outbreaks that come from international sources.”

Most students in Tennessee are required to be vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella, and nearly all kids are.  Dr. Moore says people who aren’t immune can bring the diseases back from trips overseas, where such illnesses can be common.

Decades

The modern two-dose MMR vaccination was first required in Tennessee in 1989, following big outbreaks on college campuses.  Before that only a single dose was required.

From the state health department:

The people who  got only one dose have about a 5 percent chance of being vulnerable to measles, so people born in the ‘60s or early ‘70s who didn’t go to college or the military and never got that second dose may still have a small chance of being susceptible.  In Tennessee, we had such a case – an adult born in the 1960s who contracted the virus in France.  To the person’s knowledge, they’d never had two doses of MMR vaccine (but thought that they had had all their childhood vaccines).

People born before the late 1950s are likely naturally immune already, thanks to past encounters.


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