WESTMINSTER — County health officials want adults to know: Measles aren't just forkids.
Beginning today, the county is offering free vaccinations to stop an increase in measles cases that can cause serious health problems for adults.
This year, officials have confirmed six cases in Carroll County -- all in people in their late teens or early 20s, said Pat Burnett, director of personal health for the Carroll County Health Department.
No cases were reported last year, officials said.
"Each (infected person) had been vaccinated as a child. This proves why we are concerned. The one-time vaccine is not providing a lifetime of immunity.It stops along the way, and it varies with each individual,"she said.
Measles are highly contagious and can lead to more serious illnesses, she said.
"Measles can cause dehydration, severe skin infections, pneumonia, blindness and brain damage," Burnett said.
"It can be transmitted by a simple cough or sneeze."
The virus can linger in the air for up to two hours and can be spread for several days before an individual realizes he is infected.
The virus typically lasts seven days, causing fever, dry cough, runny nose and watery eyesthe first two days.
By the third day, tiny, white spots appear onthe lining of the mouth, and on the fourth or fifth day, the fever peaks and a rash appears on the face.
The rash begins to spread on the sixth day and will fade in the next two days.
Anyone with these symptoms should contact his or her physician or local health department immediately.
In conjunction with Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Maryland Immunization Week (Sept. 21-29), county health officials will offer vaccinations at several locations.
"We will be kicking off our campaign to keep Carroll County measles-free (today)," said Larry Leitch, deputy health officer for the Carroll County Health Department.
The county will offer six clinics, (see below), until Oct.17. Leitch said the county wants everyone in need of a measles vaccinations to get one.
The Maryland Health Department reported 494 cases of measles in Maryland between Jan. 1, 1989, and July 1, 1991.
Now, children are required to receive their first measles vaccination at age 15 months.
A proposed state regulation would require children entering kindergarten or sixth-grade in September 1992 to have asecond dose of the vaccine.
"Each following year, two grades willbe added, ultimately having children in all grades vaccinated twice by the end of 1998," Burnett said.
Many pediatricians in the county are re-vaccinating children in kindergarten or sixth-grade.
"Ourgroup (Carroll Children's Center) has followed the age 5 and over recommendation from the federal government," said Karl M. Green, a Westminster pediatrician. "We started revaccinating over the age of 5 more than one year ago.
"This is a fantastic vaccine. By giving the booster, we should approach 100 percent effectiveness," he said.
Six measles clinics will be available for Carroll countians ages 12 through 35 who have not had measles or received a booster. Children younger than 18 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The clinics are:
* Today 3 to 7 p.m. at the South Carroll Health Department, 6400 W. Hemlock Drive, Eldersburg.
* Thursday 3 to 7 p.m. at the county health department, 540 Washington Road, Westminster.
* Friday 9 to 11 a.m. at the Thomas O'Farrell Youth Center in Marriottsville (for residents only).
* Oct. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Carroll County Community College in Westminster (for students and staff only).
* Oct. 16 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Taneytown Senior Center, 220 Roberts Mill Road.
* Oct. 17 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the North Carroll Senior Center, 2255 Hanover Pike, Greenmount.
Donations to the health department for the shots will be accepted.