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Health officials discuss reaction to measles cases in Utah

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 08, 2015

UTAH COUNTY -- Two Utah county siblings who recently returned home from a trip to California have the measles, and Utah Department of Health officials are concerned the disease could spread.

The best news so far is that there are no new reported cases of measles in Utah. The other big news for folks in the health department is that's there's been a lot of traffic to their website.

The measles is highly contagious and potentially very dangerous, especially for children. After two cases were confirmed Wednesday, and officials put out a full-court press of information via the Internet and the media.

“Within the first hour of our press release going out yesterday, we had more than a thousand hits on our website, as of last night, about 3,000 total hits to the website,” said Tom Hudachko of the Utah Department of Health.

There’s also a toll free number people can call, but Hudachko said the beauty of the website is that those with concerns can get nearly all of their questions answered after providing some basic information.

“You’re immunization status, immunity history and we can make a determination on whether or not you're at risk,” Hudachko said. “So one of the main things we want to do with the website and self-assessment is to let those who are not at risk know they're not at risk, so they can have some piece of mind."

Hudachko said there likely will be some additional cases of measles reported over the coming days but figuring out where those are and who might be affected are huge factors in controlling a further spread of measles.

It also gives health department officials the chance to once again stress the importance of getting immunized against preventable, contagious diseases. The two children who have measles had not received the MMR vaccine, which has proven to be about 99 percent effective.

“It’s one of the best vaccines we've got, if you're vaccinated against measles you've essentially got nothing to worry about,” Hudachko said. “But if you're not immunized, like we've seen with these cases out of Disneyland, you're at very high risk for catching the disease."

Related stories:

Test: Health officials urge Utahns to take measles assessment test to check risk

Measles and flu vaccinations: What you need to know