As the U.S. faces the worst outbreak of measles since 1992 with more than 1,000 reported cases to date in 2019, students, faculty and staff at the three University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campuses are encouraged to check their immunization records to determine their MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination status.
“We currently do not have any measles cases in the state of Wisconsin, but we want our campus communities to be prepared for if/when that does happen,” said Lt. Trent Martin, campus emergency manager with the UW Oshkosh police department. “Measles is highly contagious and is only preventable through appropriate vaccinations.”
Confirmed cases of measles, which is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus, have been reported in nearby states of Iowa, Illinois and Michigan.
A number of factors could make the UWO community vulnerable to the spread of measles, including a high number of visitors to campus for events, anyone traveling internationally or to other areas of the country and then returning to campus, and students living and eating in close contact on campus.
Wisconsin residents can check their immunization status online with the Wisconsin Immunization Registry at www.dhfswir.org. However, the registry is not 100 percent accurate as physicians are not mandated to upload vaccination data to the state website.
Other ways to check vaccination status include contacting your current primary care provider and any previous healthcare providers, looking through old papers at home or asking your parents if they have your childhood records.
Although the virus was eliminated from the United States in 2000, meaning the disease was no longer a constant presence, outbreaks still occur via travelers coming from countries where measles is still common, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC recommends that children get two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first dose at 12 to 15 months and the second at 4 to 6 years old.
Other facts related to the spread of measles:
- The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.
- Measles is still common in many parts of the world.
- Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.