Clark County Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick, 65, remembers when he had measles as a kid and remembers spending days in bed with the blinds drawn due to the conjunctivitis and photophobia measles causes.
“I have a healthy respect for measles and how scary it can be,” Melnick said.
Melnick is now leading the charge against the outbreak of that very virus. He said this outbreak is one of the largest and scariest communicable disease events in which he’s been involved. Last week, Melnick sat down with The Columbian for an interview covering myths about vaccination, protocol for fighting an outbreak and the safety and effectiveness of vaccination.
The size and length of the outbreak:
“As we get into generations of the outbreak, this can persist for weeks, if not months. Each generation, you have more people exposed, more people get sick, then they have multiple contacts in multiple places they’ve been. It’s not quite an exponential function, but you can see the numbers can increase over time. We’re trying to limit that as much as we can by the messaging we’re giving out. My concern is that this can go on for weeks, if not months, and we can see a lot bigger numbers.”
The unseen costs:
“This is putting stress on the schools; think about the cost to the state Department of Health, which has mobilized, and then you have to think about the medical costs. We’ve had one child hospitalized already. Hospitalization is expensive. The doctors visits and everything else being done. What we’ve spent at Public Health is a fraction of what is being spent communitywide on this. Besides the human suffering going on, this is money that we’re throwing down the drain, that could have been put to other uses.”