Measles outbreak hits home in the Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley residents are flooding their doctor's offices with phone calls one day after a measles case was confirmed in Fresno County. The health department announced the infected man visited a maternity ward, a grocery store, and a mall and likely exposed Fresno County residents to the virus in the process.

At Clovis Medical Group, receptionist Wendy Thompson can't remember the last time the phones were this busy. In her seven years working in the front office, only the SARS outbreak created such a buzz. "Parents are concerned about it with babies, grandparents are wanting to know and in some cases we're finding kids that aren't immunized."

There were more than two dozen calls about measles on Wednesday, and Thursday there's more. The group has five doctors who see thousands of patients. "They're asking for their records, if they've been immunized, if their children have, if they have do they need a titer to be checked."

A titer is the way in which doctors can determine whether you've been immunized. In this case they'd check for a measles vaccination. Dr. Sharmel Kettler said, "It's basically a level of these proteins called antibodies in your blood that you develop in response to the vaccine and those antibodies are already in your system ready to fight an infection should you be exposed."

Problem is your insurance may not cover that test. Kettler also said, while measles is a highly contagious and infectious disease, it's a virus so there's no specific treatment to get rid of it. "All we can do is supportive treatment at this point so your body has to learn how to fight it off and we'll support you in any way we can helping you with the symptoms and not to get too sick while your body is working."

She said if you're vaccinated, you shouldn't worry, which turns their focus to education. Fielding calls and reminding people about the signs and symptoms of measles. The health department is still surveying all the people who could have been exposed to that infected patient who is not from Fresno County. If you have any questions, call your doctor or the health department.

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