What's Going Around: Flu B, plus WHO alert on measles and polio

What's Going Around: Flu B, plus WHO alert on measles and polio

A greater number of parents are choosing to either delay or opt out of vaccinating their children. In this week's What's Going Around, Memorial Health System infection preventionist, Bridget Boudreaux, explains how preventable illnesses like measles and polio are becoming more common again on a global scale.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella.  Boudreaux says the move by many parents to not have their children vaccinated against those illnesses is causing a rise in the cases of rubella or German measles.  "It starts out with a rash, high fever," she said, "the problem is that pregnant mothers that are exposed to rubella can lead to very severe birth defects in their unborn children."

The MMR vaccine is first given to kids at the age of one, with a booster following up at age six.

Another vaccine some parents are not getting for their young children is DTaP, leading to a rise in the cases of polio.  "The countries where it was once an endemic issue are starting to see more and more cases of it," said Boudreaux, "it's a viral disease. It causes crippling effects of anyone that's exposed. Many times it's in the population less than five years old."

The World Health Organization is warning of a potential health crisis if these vaccinations continue to be skipped.

Another health issue bringing more people to the doctor this week in Southwest Louisiana is a continuation of influenza type B cases.  "We're still seeing some cases of that, even though we're out of the window of flu season," said Boudreaux, "we do still tend to see a few cases throughout the year. Right now it tends to be more of the B strain."

Lake Charles was selected as a sample test site to help develop the 2014-2015 flu vaccine that will be made available to the public sometime early this fall.

One more big health concern this week is MERS: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. An American health worker contracted the virus after traveling to Saudi Arabia. His condition is improving at an Indiana hospital. The symptoms of MERS are fever, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue.

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