Measles Epidemic Breaks Out in Robeson County
Posted July 30, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
LUMBERTON — Robeson County health officials are going to grocery stores and Hispanic communities to pass out flyers in both English and Spanish. They are trying to educate citizens about the symptoms of the German measles, because officials say they are dealing with a full-blown epidemic.
Rubella is most dangerous for infants and pregnant woman, and it can cause severe birth defects.
The Robeson County Health Department has confirmed seven cases of the disease commonly known as the German measles. Six of the seven outbreaks have been among Hispanics.
"We still have other suspicious cases with the contagiousness of the disease," nursing supervisor Eunice Inman said. "We don't know how many people were infected because it's through air contact and droplet contact."
Officials believe the first case was contracted at the beginning of July by a worker who lives in Robeson County and works at Carolina Food Processors in Bladen County. Three more workers have since been diagnosed. Two of the other cases were people who came in close contact with those workers.
Tabatha Hucks heard about the outbreak and was concerned her younger son might have the disease.
"We noticed he had some spots on him and we thought it might have been the measles, but when I brought him over here she said it wasn't," Hucks said.
Her trip to the Health Department was not a complete waste. Her older son got the immunization he needed to attend school.
"They need to make sure children are immunized, that's the only prevention you can do," Robeson County Health Director Bill Smith said.
It is a prevention that many adult Hispanics have not taken. Officials say they are more common victims because until recently, the immunization was not required in Mexico. So far this year, there have been seven other cases of rubella statewide, all among Hispanics. Two of those were in Chatham County.