PANAMA CITY Panhandle health officials are warning people to be aware of two infectious childhood viruses that are on the rise. They say they've recently confirmed several cases of measles and pertussis, or whooping cough. People who travel overseas are more at risk.
Measles is making a comeback.
The Centers for Disease Control is reporting 288 confirmed cases of the virus, the highest in May since 1994. And the threat is growing.
Experts say the primary reason for the spike is fear of vaccinations.
"There was rumor at one point that vaccines could cause autism but through studies that has been shown not to be true," said Florida Department of Health at Bay County Clinic Nursing Supervisor Tracy Adams.
Adams does admit the vaccine can have side effects.
"They’re very minimal with most of the injections. Some of them can cause a little bit of a rash on the back of the arm,” she admits. “Most of them are not live vaccines so they will not make you sick."
Pertussis is also on the rise. Walton county officials confirmed 1-case of the virus, also called whopping cough, earlier this week.
Once again, health experts say the best defense is vaccinations, especially for those who travel.
"That’s where most of these measles cases are coming from, people who are traveling abroad. Then they come back into the United States and transfer the virus to people who have been unimmunized."
Without the vaccine, your susceptibility to either of these viruses will increase.
Florida requires all students entering public school to have up-to-date vaccinations. The only legitimate reason to refuse vaccinations is religious grounds.