Measles Virus

There have been 626 cases of measles reported in the United States this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's 71 more than the agency reported last week in its weekly update.

In the middle of the largest measles outbreak in decades, Tennessee is shutting down one of its most useful tools. The measles hotline is disconnected, which anyone could use if they have questions about the virus.

For the last six weeks, anyone with a question about the measles has been able to call a state hotline with any and all questions. That was until Friday.

With it being on so many minds this week, we wanted to find out for you what you can do to keep your kids safe.

“We hand-wash when we come in from the house and we hand-wash before we eat,” said Frank Santora who has two young children.

His kids are around dozens of other kids every day. He thought the state having a hotline setup specifically to answer questions about the measles was helpful.

“I think that kind of hotline is important not only to tell you about the disease itself but also what the city and state are actually doing for you as a parent to keep children protected,” said Santora.

But the Tennessee Department of Health disconnected it despite more than 400 calls in the last six weeks.

When asked why it was disconnected, a spokeswoman would only say anyone with questions should call their doctor.

“Stay up to date and just be aware what the policies are across the board,” said Lori Earhart who is the Director of Green Hills Child Development Center.

Washing hands, bleaching toys and keeping the infants separated from the older kids are just a few things this daycare director said they do to keep kids healthy.

State law requires children in day cares over the age of 1 be vaccinated. The only exemptions are for religious and health reasons.

“And those have to be properly documented in a child’s file,” said Earhart.

“One in every three people who develop measles will go on to have other health problems like ear infections and pneumonia,” said Dr. Wendy Long with the Metro Health Department.

That's why parents like Santora hope people take this outbreak seriously and not put others at risk.

“If you're sending your kids to kids that don't have that vaccination or if they're around the playground there's a chance you could get that exposure unknowingly and that's really scary,” said Santora.

The Metro Health Department says it's important for everyone to be vaccinated, especially right now.

Adults who aren't sure if they were vaccinated when they were kids can find out with a simple blood test.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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