Health & Medicine

Nevada County measles case shuts school

Richard Pan explains reason for vaccine bill

The Democratic state senator from Sacramento on June 26, 2015 recounted why he introduced Senate Bill 277, a hugely controversial bill requiring vaccinations for California school children.
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The Democratic state senator from Sacramento on June 26, 2015 recounted why he introduced Senate Bill 277, a hugely controversial bill requiring vaccinations for California school children.

State Sen. Richard Pan on Tuesday responded to a report of measles at a Nevada County school, saying that recently enacted legislation will boost immunity in the future.

Yuba River Charter School closed its campus Tuesday in response to one confirmed case among its students. Students with up-to-date vaccinations are to be allowed to attend classes Wednesday. Students and staff without immunity documentation on file will not be able to return to campus until April 8.

The lone case of measles was confirmed over the weekend, said Patti Carter, emergency preparedness coordinator with the Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency. She said the school was closed for spring break through Monday and remained closed Tuesday to allow an opportunity to notify parents and staff members.

The unvaccinated student was infectious while at school on March 17, according to a county health department news release.

A spokeswoman at the school Tuesday afternoon said the staff was overwhelmed with inquiries and didn’t have time to speak with a reporter.

Pan, D-Sacramento, said records show that roughly 43 percent of kindergarten students who entered the school in the fall were up to date on their vaccinations.

“When schools begin to implement the new law this fall and more children are vaccinated, we will begin to boost our immunity levels which have declined to dangerously low levels in many communities in the state,” Pan said in a news release.

The measure, passed last year, made California the third state in the nation to require vaccines without religious and personal belief exemptions.

Pan said that 94 percent of people in a community need to be vaccinated to prevent an outbreak of measles. When a neighborhood loses “community immunity” some who cannot be immunized, such as infants, are at increased risk, he said.

Opponents of California's vaccine mandate law argued the measure would deprive unvaccinated children of their constitutional right to an education.

The Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency notes that the disease easily spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing. Measles causes a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. The illness lasts for a week or two. It can be spread from four days before a rash occurs to four days after, according to the health department.

Complications from measles are more common in young children and those with suppressed immune systems. Death can occur from severe complications.

There is no treatment for measles. Bed rest, fluids and control of fever are recommended.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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