- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Faced with the largest outbreak of measles in
the country this year, Alaska officials are considering a second vaccination
for thousands of school-age children across the state.
- The order, which could come as early
as Friday, would affect up to 80,000 students.
- "Initially we focused on Anchorage.
We feel the need now to expand this second dose measles immunization throughout
the state," said Dr. Peter Nakamura, director of the state Division
of Public Health.
- The outbreak began Sept. 16 at a high
school in Anchorage. By Thursday, there were 18 confirmed cases and 22
suspected cases at eight different schools in the state's largest city,
and a handful of suspected cases in two nearby school districts.
- Because children from around the state
travel to Anchorage for athletic competitions and other activities, health
officials said it was highly probable that the outbreak would spread.
- The Alaska outbreak is the nation's largest
this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Measles is highly infectious. In rare
cases it can lead to pneumonia or encephalitis, an inflammation of the
brain that can cause permanent brain damage.
- The measles vaccine is good, but not
perfect, said Dr. Mark Papania, who heads the CDC's measles elimination
- The only way to stop the spread of the
disease quickly is to immunize people with a second dose of the vaccine.
There is virtually no transmission of measles among those who have been
vaccinated twice, Papania said.