Measles Not Biggest Threat to Nevada Public Health, Official Says

Jan 30, 2015

We've been hearing a lot about the measles outbreak in California, but there's an even bigger threat to public health in Nevada that's not being talked about.

There have been 79 cases of measles diagnosed in California; 52 of those traced back to the outbreak at Disneyland. That's according to the state's Department of Public Health. But one health official says, although cause for concern, this is not the only disease Nevadans should be worried about.

"What is not being discussed is the worst epidemic of whooping cough that California's seen since before World War II. That is a much bigger threat to Nevada at this point."

Dr. James Wilson is the director of the Nevada Center for Infectious Disease Forecasting in Reno. He says's the measles outbreak has eclipsed the whooping cough epidemic, which at this point is nearing 11,000 cases. Wilson says both outbreaks can be attributed to large numbers of unvaccinated children.

"Well California has many pockets of unimmunized children, where the immunization rates are comparable to some of the poorest countries in Africa. And I think Nevadans need to ask themselves the question, hey am I adhering to my doctors advice? Am I getting my kids vaccinated?"

Wilson says Nevada also has pockets of unvaccinated children that would be at a higher risk of contracting these diseases.