The current outbreak of measles in the United States is the worst the country has seen in 15 years. There have been 118 cases reported in 23 states since the beginning of the year, according to the CDC – most all of them involving travelers to or from other countries. The disease is currently epidemic in Western Europe and Southeast Asia.

Three of those 118 cases occurred last month in Mendocino County. According to Erika Nosera, Mendo County’s Communicable Disease Nurse, the mini-outbreak happened on the Mendocino Coast, when a recently arrived tourist from France started coming down with symptoms. That tourist infected two local adults, neither of whom had been vaccinated for the disease. After a short period of isolation and treatment, all are now well.

But the Humboldt County Public Health Department put out the warning yesterday, and with good reason. Tourist season is upon us, and – Goddess forbid – the terrible disease could conceivably break free and go epidemic on us here. All the more because Humboldt County has pretty abysmal vaccination rates. A larger-than-normal percentage of our population still believe that vaccines will harm children, despite the fact that the science behind such claims has been pretty comprehensively debunked.

What hasn’t been debunked at all is that measles itself can harm your kids. Badly.

Two things: If you’re looking to get your kids vaccinated and you can’t get an appointment at your doctor, the Humboldt County Public Health Department will set you up. Call 268-2108 to make an appointment. They can get you in quickly. Vaccinations are $15 for kids 18 or under, or $75 $90 for adults.

And if you do find yourself coming down with measles-like symptoms – a cough and a running nose accompanies by a strange rash that usually starts on the face, crawling down from there – contact your doctor. Don’t go to the hospital, because you don’t want to infect all the other people in the waiting room.