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Prineville Residents Urged to Get Vaccine
January 28, 2012Crook County High School
PRINEVILLE, Ore. -- After five dangerous cases meningococcal meningitis in just 10 months ,the Crook County Health Department made an extremely rare recommendation, asking everyone who lives here in the Prineville area to get vaccinated for the disease.
"My children and my family are important to me so yes, it's very necessary," Prineville resident Jinsetta Haynes said Friday.
Haynes is concerned, but not panicked. That's just about right, according to the Crook County Health Department.
After the latest case was diagnosed this week, the department is recommending everyone in Prineville get vaccinated.
"For the people who do want to get the vaccine, obviously our clinics are going to run low with the immediate demand, but they can get it in really quickly," said Karen Yeargain from the Crook County Health Department.
Staff at the health department were busy Friday answering questions about meningitis, a disease spread through saliva and respiratory secretions. Most infections do not result in illness, but some can become deadly serious.
"Our first case did not lose any limbs or fingers. Our second case lost both lower legs. Our third case probably will lose some fingers," said Yeargain.
Five cases in 10 months is not an outbreak by federal standards -- that takes 3 in three months. No outbreak means no federal funding for the vaccine.
"I don't have sufficient insurance and I think it's cost-prohibitive,” said Dale Wagner, a Prineville resident.
An informal survey at the health department indicates the vaccine will cost you $120 to $200. High-risk age groups, 11 to 18, and people with certain health concerns may qualify to get free shots from county health.
"The more people that do choose to get this vaccine, the more, if you will, a 'community shield' we will have," said Yeargain.
If you are looking to get the vaccine, your first stop should be your doctor's office. Depending on your insurance, it may or may not be covered.
Thursday's news release:
Another case of invasive meningococcal disease, the fifth in the past 10 months, has hit Crook County, this time in a young infant, Crook County health officials said Thursday.
The infant, less than 6 months of age, is in fair condition at an area hospital, according to Karen Yeargain, Crook County Health Department communicable disease coordinator. Further identifying information was not released due to confidentiality regulations.
Serogrouping to determine the strain of the bacteria causing the illness is pending, with results expected by the middle of next week.
Health officials have been working to identify people in the family and medical settings who were close contacts during the infectious period, from Jan. 15-24 Those people have been notified by the Health Department and preventative antibiotics provided to protect their health. Those identified as close contacts are NOT a risk to other people, Yeargain said.
In Oregon, an immunization for meningococcal disease is recommended for all children 11 through 18 years of age, college freshmen living in dorms, plus people 2-55 years old with certain medical conditions. All local health departments are able to provide vaccine for people in these categories.
Because of the high number of invasive meningococcal cases in the past 10 months, Crook County health officials are encouraging all Prineville residents to get meningococcal vaccine.
Yeargain stressed Friday, "This is not an emergency," sand said "people who want the vaccine should be able to get it within the next couple of weeks."
"If medical offices run low, they will be able to order more and have it in stock fairly quickly," she said.
There are licensed vaccines that cover ages 9 months and up. Check with your medical provider to see if they have the vaccine available for your age group.
For those who cannot access the vaccine, either due to cost, lack of availability or lack of a regular medical provider the Crook County Health Department has a limited supply of meningococcal vaccine at a reduced cost. The vaccine we stock is available for persons 9 months through 55 years of age. Some people may qualify to receive the vaccine at no charge.
Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium, neisseria meningitidis, that is present in the throat or nasal passages of about 15%-25 percent of the general population at any given time without causing symptoms.
Transmission of the meningococcal bacteria is through direct contact with saliva or respiratory secretions of the infected person. In most instances, it does not cause a person to become ill. Occasionally, the bacteria cross the protective mucous membrane barrier and enter the bloodstream.
Factors for invasive meningococcal disease may include a recent upper respiratory illness, smoking, or exposure to second hand smoke. A compromised immune system can also contribute to a person being more susceptible. Some people become ill without any of these risk factors.
When meningococcal strikes, illness is rapid and severe and can take the form of bloodstream infection, meningitis or pneumonia.
The first outward symptoms of invasive meningococcal disease may include fever, sore throat, headache and muscle aches, making it similar to other respiratory illnesses circulating this time of year. Later, as the person becomes very ill, they may develop decreased mental function or a purple rash on the skin.
“The disease causes tiny blood vessels to break on the surface of the skin and throughout the body”, said Yeargain. “This is what causes the purple rash that appears, which is actually a bruising, and can cause damage to other organs and tissues, including kidney failure or the loss of limbs.”
Prevention includes vaccination against the disease, avoiding being exposed to other peoples’ nasal and throat secretions, avoidance of tobacco smoke either directly or secondhand, and washing hands after contact with surfaces contaminated with respiratory droplets from other people.
For more information on receiving meningococcal vaccine, call the Health Department at 541-447-5165.