Saturday, January 19th, 2019

USM takes precaution against measles

Posted on March 02, 2015 in News
By Zachary Searles

Courtesy of the Center for Disease Control

Over February break, USM Health & Counseling services sent out two emails to update students about the measles outbreak that has occurred, starting in California and has started to make its way eastward across the United States.

Measles is a viral illness that causes symptoms similar to the flu, and shortly after these symptoms arise a rash appears. The disease is airborne with high transmissibility because of its incubation period of two to three weeks.

Lisa Belanger, director of health services said that the point was not to cause a hysteria or fear of measles among us. “It was more to make students conscious and aware of the fact that this is what we know and be prudent while you’re travelling,” Belanger said.

Right now, the goal is to educate without causing panic. With no confirmed cases so far in Maine, Belanger didn’t want there to be panic and public outcry on campus. Especially since there really is no way of confirming if measles will ever even make it to the state.

“Our messages need to be truthful and not fear based,” said Belanger. “Getting the notice out was not to make people afraid but to empower them with information.”

Another reason for the notice was to get students that still haven’t turned in their records to do so and as soon as possible. Belanger also commented on the fact that this is law in the state of Maine and students are expected to comply.

“It’s not because we are saying this, as USM, it’s the law, said Belanger. “We are required to track and inform students of this requirement.”

“We did the same thing in years passed with tracking immunization.” Belanger said,  “This year it’s at least conceivable that measles could make an appearance, so it makes it that much more important and that much more real about the purpose for getting in your shots.”

Enrolled at USM right now are 493 students that have signed declinations to not be vaccinated for measles because of religious, medical or philosophical reason, along with a smaller number of students that have yet to turn in their immunization records. If there were to be a case of measles at USM, these students would be asked to leave and they wouldn’t be allowed to return until the outbreak was deemed over by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Maine.

This would be for the students’ protection. Without the vaccination, they are much more susceptible to the virus.

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