A recent outbreak in Maryland, including several cases in Carroll County, has raised concern about meales.
Measles is caused by a virus. Common symptoms are high fever, upper respiratory symptoms and a rash.
Every child should be vaccinated at 15 months. A second measles shot is recommended at age 12. The shots are usually given as MMR -- measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
More than one-third of cases occur in people 15 years and older. People born after 1957 should receive a booster MMR shot; most of those born before 1957 are considered immune to the virus.
The Carroll County Health Department, following recommendations by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will offer the MMR vaccine to all county sixth-graders and others who need it.
The vaccine is available at clinics 2 to 4 p.m. every Tuesday at the Health Department, 540 Washington Road. All children under18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
There will be no charge for the vaccine, but donations will be accepted.
Information: 876-4936, 876-4900 or 857-5000.
PROTECT AGAINST RABIES
WESTMINSTER -- Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that can invade the central nervous system of all warm-blooded animals.
Sincethe virus lives in the saliva of a rabid animal, the most common waythe disease is spread is through bites.
Exposure, in rare cases, also can come from scratches or when saliva from the rabid animal gets into open wounds and mucous membranes, such as eyes, nose and mouth.
The disease most often occurs in wildlife, such as bats, skunks and foxes. Livestock and unvaccinated dogs and cats also can get the disease. Ground hogs, squirrels, other rodents and opossums rarely contract rabies.
The Mid-Atlantic region has experienced a rabies epidemic in its raccoon population since the 1970s. Raccoon rabies first reached Carroll County in 1983. The number of animals that tested positive for rabies peaked in 1984 at 148, with raccoons accounting for 134 of those animals.
After the 1983 outbreak of rabies decimated the raccoon population, the number of cases has dwindled. So far in1991, only five cases of rabies, all raccoons, have been reported.
In 1985, the county also had several cases of cat rabies. Cats, like raccoons, are nocturnal creatures, so a cat's likelihood of exposure to rabies is high. There also are many unvaccinated barn cats in the county, adding to the number of possible rabies cases.
The importance of keeping pet cats and dogs vaccinated is underscored by the fact that Carroll has had no cases of rabies in a properly vaccinated animal. An unvaccinated domestic animal can carry the disease for up to six months following its exposure to rabies.
This period is theincubation period, during which time the animal appears to be healthy and cannot pass the disease on to people or other animals.
The disease can only be passed on when it reaches its final stage, and theanimal will die within five to seven days after onset of the final stage.
In addition to keeping pets vaccinated, there are other methods of minimizing exposure to rabies.
* Stay away from wildlife, especially injured or seemingly friendly wild animals; do not handle the animals.
* Make your home unattractive to wild animals by taking in your pet's food at night and having secure trash can lids.
* Report all dog and cat bites to the local or state police so the biting animal can be placed under a 10-day quarantine to determine if they had rabies at the time of the bite.
HELP AVOID TOOTH DECAY
WESTMINSTER -- Tooth decay is the most widespread, chronic disease of childhood, often requiring extensive and costlyrepair. Dental cavities affect about 95 percent of children.
One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay is by adjusting the amount offluoride in the community's drinking water. Drinking fluoridated water from birth reduces tooth decay by as much as 65 percent.
In Carroll County, about 70 percent of the population is on private well water. The natural level of fluoride in the water is negligible.
Carroll has eight community water supply systems, and four -- Westminster, New Windsor, Mount Airy and Freedom -- have fluoridated water.
A recent study by the U.S. Public Health Service praised the benefitsof fluoride and found the risks almost "impossible to detect."
Those on private well systems can consult their doctor or dentist for aprescription for daily fluoride tablets or drops. A daily regime from birth to age 12 will help protect the child's teeth by strengthening the enamel so that it is more resistant to breakdown by sugary foods.
For children age 5 through 18 in areas where fluoride is not added to the water, a school program of weekly rinsing with a 0.2 percent solution of neutral sodium fluoride is recommended to prevent cavities.
Results of research during the past 10 years have shown thatchildren who use this procedure will have about 35 percent fewer cavities.