“We will probably see a case or two in the region:” Health officials prep for a measles outbreak in WI

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The disease is quickly spreading around the country and we are just days away from learning if measles has in fact made its way into Wisconsin. While we wait for test results, recent cases have sparked community members as well as those in the medical field to prepare.

The YMCA is hosting family fun Fridays. In addition to all of the games and activities, a big part of the evening is dedicated to health -- there's a clinic where folks can get free measles shots. Health officials say it's highly recommended to keep other community members safe.

"This is definitely a disease that can be completely eradicated by vaccination it's one of the most effective vaccines out there with two doses its 97% effective," said Alice Brewer, Director of Infection Prevention and Associate Health and Wellness at Columbia St. Mary's.

Brewer says its vital that people get immunized against the measles. This year alone more than 120 people in 17 states have contracted the highly contagious virus.

"I suspect we will probably see a case or two in the region because its such a highly contagious disease and we're seeing so many cases elsewhere," said Brewer.

Two suspected cases of measles have now popped up in Portage County.

"It's something we are keeping an eye out for," said Brewer.

Brewer says all hospital staff is prepared to handle any potential cases and has a special protocol to deal with someone in the hospital or clinic with a suspected case.

"They will be placed in isolation. Measles measles is an airborne disease so it's transmitted through the air when a person coughs, sneezes or even breathes -- it emits the virus into the air so its highly contagious. We want to immediately make sure that person is in an isolation situation and our staff if protected an anybody what might come into contact with that person is protected," said Brewer.

The infected person could have been contagious for some time, health officials say it takes 3 weeks for symptoms to show. All hospital staff is aware of what to look for.

"Usually a fever over 101° and a runny nose sometimes you'll see pink eye and an infection of the eye within a few days you will see a rash develop," said Brewer.

Hospital staff is ready with protective gear such as special respiratory masks so they can be protected from any particles that might be in the air -- but you need to arm yourself against the virus as well.

Once again, the best way to do so is with a vaccination.

Come down to a clinic if you need to in order to get your shot, or if you're unsure if you've had a shot, CLICK HERE.