CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Despite a measles outbreak affecting 17 states and the District of Columbia, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says the Palmetto State has dodged an instance of the illness for more than a decade.
"Our staff reviewed current and historical records and were unable to find any instances of measles in South Carolina as far back as 1999," DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said.
Recently the Charleston County School District sent a letter to parents and posted a copy on their website reminding families measles is "among the most contagious diseases known."
"Among reported cases, the majority are either unvaccinated, including children too young to be vaccinated or had an unknown vaccination status," the letter from CCSD Director of Nursing Melissa Prendergast read.
"The current outbreak shows the ongoing risk for measles and the importance of getting vaccinated to protect teachers, students, and their families," Prendergast wrote. "The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from measles and prevent potential outbreaks. The MMR vaccine is recommended for all infants at 12 months of age and is a requirement to attend day care and school in South Carolina."
From Jan. 1 and Feb. 27 of this year, 170 people from 17 states and the District of Columbia have been confirmed to have the measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control's website. CDC officials say the majority of those cases are believed to be linked to a California amusement park.
The states involved are California, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia and the District of Columbia, the CDC site states.
Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat, the CDC site states. Those early symptoms are followed by a rash that spreads over the body.
The measles virus spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing.
To track measles outbreaks, visit the CDC's website: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html