An unvaccinated middle school student in Cobb County infects measles and detects others who are not immunized against the highly contagious virus, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported Monday.
District school officials confirmed that the student had attended Mabri High School by 1 November. A total of 17 non-vaccinated people – mostly students and at least one adult – stay away from school and are home, according to two people familiar with the situation. Those at home will not be allowed to return until the 21-day quarantine period has ended, according to the state health agency.
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Quarantine covers the time when symptoms of the disease appear and an infected person will be infected. This will be until November 22nd. But after schools were closed for Thanksgiving break next week, those exposed to the virus will not return until December 2 at the earliest.
"The affected teachers and students continue to focus on teaching and learning, while the affected students and families are supported by public health," the school district said in an email statement.
A student in Mabri marks the eighth case of measles this year, the most the state has seen in the last decade. All eight people were unvaccinated.
The Department of Public Health requests that anyone with measles symptoms first call a doctor before entering a doctor's office or hospital.
The measles virus usually starts with fever and is accompanied by cough, runny nose and red eyes, according to government officials. Two to three days after the onset of the first symptoms, a rash of red spots appears, usually on the face along the hairline. It can be moved to the rest of the body within 24 hours.
The embryo may spread into the air when the infected person coughs or sneezes. It can stay in the air for up to two hours.
In a letter sent to her parents, Janet Pak Memar, of the Cobb-Douglas Public Health Department, said it was very unlikely that students would get measles if they had been vaccinated with the measles and rubella vaccine. Typically, the vaccine is administered first between the ages of 12 and 15 months and again between 4 and 6 years.
Cobb County School Board Chairman David Chastain said he had seen some people share news about the diagnosis on social media but did not bother parents or teachers to contact him.
"I understand people's concerns, but I think the fact that people are aware can take their own precautions," he said, adding that he knew nothing else about the diagnosis.
It also encourages Cob residents to follow all guidelines issued by the health authority against the background of the diagnosis.
"I think people need to be rational about this," he added.
Parents who bring their children to the school located on James Road in East Cobb do not seem overly concerned, with several parents indicating that their children have been vaccinated and protected against measles.
But Michael Bryan, Mabri's parent, said he was "a little worse off" to learn the student's diagnosis. "It was a little disturbing," he said.
Brian says he thinks children should be vaccinated before enrolling in public schools. "Unless they have a condition that makes vaccines extremely dangerous for them, then absolutely," he said. "It still makes sense to get vaccinated."
Approximately 93.6% of young children in Georgia received the recommended measles, mumps and rubella vaccination, slightly lower than the national average of 94.7%, according to a study , published in the October issue of weekly reports on US Centers for Disease Control and Mortality. Also in Georgia, 2.5 percent of kindergartens had exemptions from at least one vaccine, which is the same overall rate for the United States
Under state law, vaccinations are required for school attendance unless a parent or guardian provides a religious or temporary medical form for release. For religious exceptions, the child must have a notarized certificate stating that the vaccinations are against the family's religious beliefs.
Temporary release from a physician – by a physician, nurse or assistant to a health professional in advanced practice – may be granted for up to one year for specific vaccines.
In the event of a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak, exceptionally students will not be able to attend school until the epidemic is controlled.
The CDC has recorded 1,250 cases of measles in 31 states in the United States since January 1, the highest since 1992.
The increase is mainly due to several large outbreaks, especially in New York City, home to over 75 % of cases this year, according to the CDC. In April, New York declared a public health emergency and introduced mandatory vaccinations in certain zip codes after hundreds were weaned.
The CDC believes that bad information disseminated through social media has played a significant role in parents who deviate from vaccinations. He pointed out the already debunked theory that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is linked to autism.
"The persistence of vaccinations and the spread of vaccine misinformation causes great concern for pediatricians. Probably our number one problem right now, "said Dr. Hugo Skornik, a Conyers pediatrician.
Skornik, Vice President of the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, stated that he and other doctors are doing their best to provide information on the importance of vaccinations for the prevention of very serious childhood illnesses.
And when parents refuse to vaccinate their children, he said that sometimes he had no choice but to ask the family to change pediatric practices to avoid exposing them to other patients.
"This is not the desired result," he said.
Staff writer Chelsea Prince contributed to this article.
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