McKinley Health Center works to improve measles prevention


Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

Boxes of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are displayed at the Gason County Department of Health and Human Service. McKinley Health Center hopes to increase measures on measles prevention.

By Aliza Majid, Contributing Writer

While students try to battle their new year flu, McKinley Health Center is beginning to work on measles prevention in the Champaign-Urbana community.

Earlier this year, four cases of measles occurred in the C-U area, two of which were in the University community.

Measles is a viral infection that spreads through the air and is identified by symptoms such as coughing or sneezing. If someone were to get infected from the virus, it would usually occur within a day or two, but symptoms would start appearing within seven to 14 days. Measles symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, rashes and red, watery eyes. 

Robert Woodward, medical director of McKinley Health Center, stated the center has been working closely with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District in order to prevent another case from developing. 

Woodward added the concept of community immunity can help to maintain the safety of the University.

Kashif Ahmad, teaching professor at Carle Illinois College of Medicine, said people need to become more aware of the virus and its symptoms by visiting local community centers and hospitals for more information. 

“The virus changes its dynamics very quickly and it’s hard to control since the disease can attack the body,” Ahmad said.

The previous viral infection began from an individual who was traveling overseas and returned with some form of the virus and was unaware of the vaccine they needed beforehand. This resulted in the virus being spread, which prompted health centers to put more effort in advocating for the vaccine. 

Woodward said measles vaccines are available at traveling clinics as well as McKinley Health Center. 

The center is also working with students who are from outside the United States by informing them about the measles vaccine to prevent a fatal outcome. 

Woodward advises anyone who is infected to contain themselves in their apartment or dorm rooms if possible and contact the public health department for future actions, as the virus can spread instantaneously. 

Ahmad said although the virus itself is deadly, one of the more dangerous outcomes can be due to secondary infections that could develop, such as ear infection, pneumonia and brain damage in some extreme cases.

However, Woodward said informing the public has had a positive impact on increasing the vaccine rate.

“It’s looking good right now, since 99% of the University is already pre-vaccinated,” Woodward said. “Everybody is compliant with their immunization with the University.”

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