Due to a recent outbreak of rubella in southern Ontario, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reminding residents of the importance of routine immunizations for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
"Citizens born after 1956 are encouraged to check their immunization status to ensure that they have received the MMR vaccine. Alternatively, if they are unsure of their immunization status, a blood test will indicate whether they are immune, said Janet Olszewski, MDCH director.
Getting immunized is a very important step growing up, Olszewski said. Vaccinations help to prevent diseases that can harm children and the people that surround them.
The rubella or German measles vaccine is among several childhood vaccinations that have been required for school attendance since 1978. People born before 1957 are more likely to have immunity from rubella, due to outbreaks during that time period.
Although Michigans last reported rubella case was in 2002, and there have only been two reported cases in the state since 1998, this situation is still something to take seriously, Olszewski said.
Children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine today, the first at 12 to 15 months of age, and a second dose at 4 to 6 years of age.
Rubella spreads to unimmunized individuals through airborne transmission, such as coughing and sneezing. Rubella often causes rash and fever, and is not serious for the person infected.
The disease, which has an incubation stage of 14 to 17 days, can have serious consequences including heart defects, mental retardation, vision and hearing problems, among others for children born to women infected while pregnant. In the United States thanks to routine immunizations rubella has become a very rare disease.