Precautionary measures in aftermath of measles scare

As California grapples with a large measles outbreak, now numbering 107 cases as of Feb. 9, health officials highly recommend health care professionals and their staff get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) combination vaccination, if they have not already been immunized.

“Two doses of measles-containing vaccine (MMR vaccine) are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles,” Gil Chavez, with the California Department of Public Health, said on the CDPH website. “If you are unsure of your vaccination status, check with your doctor to have a test to check for measles immunity or to receive vaccination.”

Initial exposure in December at a Southern California theme park occurred in 59 of the 107 confirmed measles cases, according to the CDPH. The California measles cases occurred in 12 local jurisdictions (Alameda, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura counties and the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena). One dental practice reported to CDA an employee with measles.

Measles, which is a highly contagious viral disease, is widespread in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa and Asia. Measles begins with a fever that lasts for a couple of days, followed by a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and a rash. The rash typically appears first on the face, along the hairline and behind the ears and then affects the rest of the body. Infected people are usually contagious from about four days before their rash starts to four days afterward. Children routinely get their first dose of the MMR vaccine at 12 months old or later. The second dose of MMR is usually administered before the child begins kindergarten but may be given one month or more after the first dose.

A dental practice’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases screening procedure should include questions on patients’ potential exposure to measles, and if a case is suspected, follow the CDPH recommendations for infection control.

For more information on measles, visit cdc.gov.  

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Cal/OSHA Regulation Targets Aerosol Transmissible Diseases

Cal/OSHA has a regulation to prevent the transmission of aerosol transmissible diseases at health care facilities, including nursing homes, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, drug treatment programs and among specific service providers, such as emergency responders. Aerosol transmissible diseases include all types of influenza, chicken pox, tuberculosis and several more listed in the regulation's appendix. Most dental practices and many specialty medical practices can be exempt from the regulation, as long as the practices comply with specific conditions.

Injury and Illness Prevention Plan

This is a sample plan that you can customize to describe how your practice prevents workplace injuries and illnesses. If you have employees, you must have this plan. This resource is part of the CDA Regulatory Compliance Manual. This plan has been updated to include procedures for screening patients with aerosol transmissible diseases.