Health briefs for May 3, 2014: Measles vaccines recommended |

Health briefs for May 3, 2014: Measles vaccines recommended

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is experiencing a high number of reported measles, many of which were acquired during international travel. A total of 129 measles cases have been reported in the U.S. in 2014, the highest number reported since 1996.

Of these cases, 34 were imported from other countries, such as the Philippines. The Philippines has been experiencing an explosive outbreak of measles, with approximately 20,000 confirmed or suspected cases reported during January-February, including 69 deaths.

Measles is a highly contagious, acute viral illness that is transmitted by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. After an infected person leaves a location, the virus remains contagious for up to 2 hours on surfaces and in the air. Measles can cause severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. CDC recommends international travelers, school age children and college students receive two MMR — measles, mumps, rubella — vaccinations.

Children between ages 1 to 3 years old should receive one dose of MMR, but two doses if they are traveling internationally.

For more information on getting vaccinated against measles, call 970-824-8233 or 970-879-1632 or contact your health care provider.

Kaiser Permanente explores expansion to Colorado mountain communities

Kaiser Permanente, Colorado’s largest nonprofit health plan, announced this week it is exploring plans to offer health care services in Colorado’s mountain communities for the first time by 2016. The initial focus will be on expanding to the mountain communities along the I-70 corridor.

Kaiser Permanente currently offers health care services and health plan coverage along Colorado’s Front Range — in Metro Denver and Boulder, as far north as Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland and as far south as Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

Kaiser Permanente has experienced unprecedented membership growth in 2014 through Colorado’s health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. By mid-April, the health plan enrolled more than 58,000 members through the marketplace according to the release.

Kaiser Permanente is still in the early stages of planning this expansion into Colorado’s mountain communities.

Hantavirus, rabies can affect rural areas

With warmer weather comes a greater chance for contact with wildlife, which can also mean greater exposure to diseases animals may carry.

Hantavirus is a serious respiratory disease carried by deer mice, which are brown on top and white underneath with large ears. Be careful when doing spring cleaning and before opening up cabins, buildings, sheds and barns.

You can become infected when you inhale dirt and dust contaminated with deer mice droppings. Air out rodent-infested buildings or areas at least 30 minutes before cleaning. Use a solution of household bleach — one cup bleach per gallon of water — to spray materials you have used for cleaning mouse droppings.

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Bats, foxes, porcupines and other small rodents can have rabies, meaning you should never touch these animals. Rabies is a deadly disease transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually from bites.

Most human cases of rabies in the United States are caused by bats. Bites leave a small wound but require urgent medical attention. If bitten, wash the wound with soap and water and call your doctor.

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