The "Pock" Stops Here
University of Florida junior Lindsay Lucado learned measles had returned to North Central Florida from a school-wide E-mail message. The message explained how the disease was diagnosed, how to prevent it and why it is so dangerous, and according to Lucado, that E-mail did help ease her mind.
"It is kind of concerning," she said. "But the E-mail indicated as long as you'd been vaccinated twice, you were definitely pretty well protected."
Two doses of the vaccine makes a person 99 percent immune to measles and one dose makes a person approximately 90 percent immune, but not being immunized at all makes a person highly susceptible to the disease...as one U.F. Student found out.
"When he came in contact with his brother who had measles, he got it," U.F. Student Healthcare Center Director Phillip Barkley explained. "Measles is a very communicable disease. In fact, it's probably the most communicable disease that is known at this point in time."
The virus can linger in the air for up to four hours, and for each case of measles reported, up to 12 more cases can be expected. That is a big difference from influenza, which infects an additional two or three people after the first is infected, so when health officials diagnosed the first case Sunday, an investigation began immediately.
"We've identified classmates; we've identified faculty that's worked with him; and we've identified others, his close personal contacts, his work contacts," Alachua County Health Department's Tom Belcuore said.
Examiners diagnosed the first case at the University of Florida, then investigators traced it back to the student's brother at Santa Fe Community College and from there to a friend who recently returned from India.
The investigation also led to the suspension of the Hare Krishna lunches served at U.F.'s Plaza of the Americas for the next 30 days as a safety precaution.
"Public Health has asked them to not serve until there's sort of an all-clear given by Public Health and the University," Barkley said.
Health officials believe they have contained the outbreak. Still they remind people who have not been immunized to be careful, especially when large groups of people get together, such as graduation ceremonies. With the spring semester almost at an end however, Lucado said she does not feel people need to worry too much, but it is nice to know what's going on.
"You don't want an epidemic and you don't want to get a lot of people sick."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News.
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