Earlier this year in January, San Diego County encountered the first case of measles since the 1990s. Many citizens of the United States were not concerned, but given the highly contagious nature of this viral infection and the fact that many parents are opting not to vaccinate their children; this is cause for major concern.
According to Clark, (2008, para. 4), “In less than a month, the outbreak – San Diego County’s first since 1991 – began in Switzerland and has spanned about half the globe. The case demonstrates how quickly, extensively and silently the potential lethal virus can spread.” This case of measles started when a family was returning from a vacation to Switzerland.
As quoted by Clark, (2008, para. 13), “More than 400 cases of measles occur in Switzerland each year, about triple to total in the United States.” The family returned home on January 15 and a seven year old child was infected, this child then infected two siblings. According to Stanhope, M., and Lancaster, J. (2008, p.875), “Measles is an acute, highly contagious disease. Symptoms include fever, sneezing and coughing, conjunctivitis, small white spots on the inside of the cheek (Koplik’s spots), and a red, blotchy rash beginning several days after the respiratory signs.
Measles is caused by the rubeola virus and is transmitted by inhalation of infected aerosol droplets, or by direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions or with articles freshly contaminated with the same nasal or throat secretions. Its very contagious nature, combined with the fact that people are most contagious before they are aware they are infected, makes measles a disease that can spread rapidly through the population.” The seven year old’s parents took the child to a children’s clinic thinking the child had a cold.
At this point, only four other patients are potentially infected; however, these four patients return to the clinic between the dates of February 5th – 8th, possibly spreading the virus to 60 other children. The article goes on to say, ““One of the infants who became infected Jan. 25 at the clinic is the 11-month old whose family flew to Hawaii. Health officials also trying to find people who were at Lindbergh Field’s Terminal 2, Gate 41 between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday. That time period covers two hours before and after the 10:30 a.m. departure of Flight 15,” (Clark, 2008, para. 3).
“The community of San Diego has more than 1.25 million people, San Diego is the seventh largest city in the United States and the second largest in California” (City of San Diego Economic Development Population. 2000, para. 2). Three schools and one swimming school are mentioned in the article, as well as, a major airport. When the reader looks at the tracking rubric the potential for over three hundred people coming in contact with the potentially infected children makes one understand the importance of vaccinations.
The San Diego County health officials confirmed five cases of measles and were investigating five suspected cases. The county health department has the means and resources to reach the public when a concern for public safety is feared. According to Quad Council, 1999, revised 2005 as cited by Stanhope, M. and Lancaster, J.(2008, p. 10), “Public health nursing is described as population-focused practice that emphasizes the promotion of health, the prevention of disease and disability, and the creation of conditions in which all people can be healthy.”
The children infected measles suffered from a self care deficit. By nature children are unable to provide all the care necessary to meet their self care demands. According to Dennis, (1997. p. 37), “Selfcare is not instinctual. How to act and behave in order to care for one’s self is learned over time.
The public has a right to be protected from deadly virus, especially from ones that are considered deadly in third world countries. The problem of education still remains when dealing with the public; if the parents of the seven year old knew the incidence of their children contracting this disease in a foreign country would they have thought twice about getting their children vaccinated?
Any parent can refuse to have their children vaccinated, according to Clark, (2008, para. 24) “Under state law, parents can decline to have their children vaccinated based on medical, religious or personal reasons. Many have done so out of fear – which doctors say is unfounded – that the vaccine may cause autism. The vaccine does not contain thimerosal, a compound that some people link to autism.”
According to Healthy People 2010 as cited by Stanhope, M. and Lancaster, J.(2008. p. 876), “calls for the sustained elimination of indigenous cases of vaccine-preventable disease. Efforts to meet this goal will require (1) rapid detection of cases and implementation of appropriate outbreak control measures; (2) achievement and maintenance of high levels of vaccination coverage among preschool-age children in all geographic regions;
(3) continued implementation and enforcement of the two-dose schedule among young adults; (4) the determination of the source of all outbreaks and sporadic infections; and (5) cooperation among countries in measles control efforts. Nurses receive reports of cases, investigate them, and initiate control measures for outbreaks. The county health officials in this case worked into night trying to notify parents of the potentially exposed children, which could have been hundreds. This is the calling and duty of a community health professional.
ReferencesCity of San Diego Economic Devlopment Population. (2000). The city of San Diego. Retrieved May 11, 2008, from http://www.sandiego.gov/economic-development/glance/population.shtml Clark Cheryl, (2008). Flight spreads measles from S.D to Hawaii. SignOnSanDiego.com. Retrieved May 11, 2008, from http://www.signonsandiego.com/ Dennis, Connie M. (1997). Self-care deficit theory of nursing concepts and applications.
St. Louis, MO: Mosby. Stanhope, M. and Lancaster, J.(2008). Public health nursing: Population-centered. [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-Text]. St. Louis, MO.: Mosby. Retrieved April 11, 2008, from University of Phoenix, rEsource, NUR 471 Web site University of Phoenix. (2008). NUR/471 – Dimensions of community nursing practice. Retrieved May 11, 2008, from University of Phoenix, Week One, rEsource. NUR 471 Web site.