While no measles cases have been reported in Wisconsin so far, the City of Appleton Health Department and local healthcare providers are doing what they can to make sure the community is informed and prepared.
The Appleton Health Department recently held two free measles walk-in immunization clinics at the City Center in downtown Appleton. Participating agencies included ThedaCare, Affinity Health System, the Appleton Fire Department, Appleton public and private schools as well as Gold Cross Ambulance.
“Recognizing that this is a highly contagious disease, we felt it was important to be proactive and identify students at greatest risk of contracting and spreading the disease to others in the community,” said Appleton Public Health Officer Kurt Eggebrecht.
A total of 97% of students in Appleton schools are up-to-date on their measles vaccinations. But the first of the two clinics was offered to the Appleton public and private school students who have not been vaccinated, or are not up-to-date with the recommended doses of the measles vaccine. A second clinic was held for those school districts' staff members.
“Prevention is key,” said Tracey Froiland, project manager for Wisconsin Hospital Emergency Preparedness and emergency management coordinator for ThedaCare. “What people need to know is one case of measles will affect a lot of people and take many community resources to contain. Vaccination clinics such as these are very important.”
Utilizing the city’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, the vaccines for the clinics were acquired from the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.
Should a case of measles be confirmed in Appleton, Eggebrecht says the city, school districts and area health care partners are ready.
“This upfront work positions us to better implement quarantine orders for unvaccinated students if we were to have a case of measles in a school-aged child.”
Measles is highly contagious. The disease begins with cold like signs and symptoms including a cough, runny nose, high temperature and red watery eyes. By the second day after onset, a red blotchy rash appears at the hairline and spreads down the body to the arms and legs.
Measles is spread through the air by a sneeze or cough. One case is considered an outbreak because it is so highly contagious. Measles can be spread from one day before the onset of cold-like symptoms, through the fourth day of the rash.
More information on the measles can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website at: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/