From the daily archives: Tuesday, May 17, 2011

California is experiencing an increase in measles cases, likely due to international travel or exposure to others who have recently traveled to Europe, Asia and Africa where there are outbreaks of this highly contagious disease.

“California, like the rest of the nation and, indeed, the world, is experiencing an increase in measles cases that is entirely preventable with immunization,” said Dr. Gilberto Chávez, deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health. “Anyone who will be traveling or is expecting contact with recent international travelers should confirm that their vaccinations are up-to-date.”


Since April, seven new cases of measles were reported in California, bringing the statewide total to 13 for this year. Last year 27 cases of measles were reported. In 2009, only nine cases were reported. Of the cases reported for this year, three were reported in Mendocino County and two in Santa Clara County. Single cases have been reported in Alameda, Orange, Sacramento, San Benito, San Diego, San Mateo, Sonoma and Stanislaus counties.


Federal officials report a nationwide increase in measles cases. Nearly all of the affected individuals traveled to Europe, Asia or Africa, or had contact with international travelers. Currently, outbreaks of measles are occurring in many European countries, as well as India and the Philippines. In France, more than 9,000 measles cases have been reported in the last six months, including fatal cases and cases with neurological complications.


“Because measles vaccination usually starts at 12 to 15 months of age, infants 6 months or older traveling internationally may need an early vaccine dose before departure,” added Chávez.  “Parents should consult with their health care provider to ensure infants and children are properly immunized.”


Measles is a highly infectious disease that typically causes a fever, runny nose, cough, sore eyes and a red rash all over the body. A person with measles can be contagious for up to four days before and four days after the onset of rash. Even in previously healthy children, measles can be a serious illness requiring hospitalization. As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia. About one child in every 1,000 who gets measles will develop encephalitis — an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, deafness or brain damage. For every 1,000 children who become ill with measles, one or two will die from the disease.


Travelers who develop symptoms of measles should call their healthcare provider before going to a healthcare facility so that appropriate steps can be taken to protect other patients from measles.  To hear more about measles from Dr. Chávez, click here.


By Bob Hurst


The Major League Baseball season is a grind, and if a team sticks it out, they just might reap the rewards. No team knows that better than the San Francisco Giants, who clinched the NL West title on the final day of last season before going on to win the World Series.


How the Giants use that experience as they attempt to defend their title this year will be a key.


“I have a very humble group here,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We had a special year here last year and we know how difficult it is to repeat. Just to have the opportunity is what they look forward to. They know how tough it is, you become a so-called target. And they’ve done a great job of it to stay focused and try to win a ball game every day.”


San Francisco began this season slowly, going 1-4. They warmed up by winning four straight and six of seven before losing four in a row. Then the Giants won six consecutive games to move into first place in the NL West and had won seven of their last nine after opening a series at Colorado with a loss.


“The most important thing when you start the season is to try to get into the postseason and then take the next step,” Bochy said. “I was proud of how these guys showed up in spring training. They came in good shape and weren’t too full of themselves after having a great year.


“What’s important is that these guys understand how tough it is and what a long journey it is. When we look back, it went down to the last game of the season to get to the postseason. They remember that and how hard it is. They’ve got a great mind set to work hard.”


Once again, the Giants’ pitching is near the top of the class. Early this week, the staff was fourth in the majors with a 3.31 ERA; third in strikeouts with 332 and was limiting opponents to a .229 batting average, which was second in baseball.


Ryan Vogelsong (3-0) has been a pleasant surprise. He lowered is ERA to 2.36 after a rain-shortened, 3-0 win at Chicago on Saturday. In his previous start, Vogelsong allowed one hit in a 3-0 victory over the Rockies. Over those two starts, he gave up eight hits while striking out 11 and walking two in 12.1 innings pitched.


The Giants hard-luck pitcher has been Madison Bumgarner (0-6). Going into last Friday’s game against the Cubs, he had received no runs of support in four of his six starts.


Despite pitching well recently with an ERA of 2.60 over his last five starts, Bumgarner was still looking for the win column going into his scheduled start on Thursday at Los Angeles.


“The wins and losses are not something I’m going to concern myself with, I just want to go out there and keep us in the game, give us a chance to win,” Bumgarner said after retiring the last 11 Cubs he faced in last week’s loss. I just try to take it one start at a time and one inning at a time.”


San Francisco, which ranked in about the middle offensively last season, is even lower this year. The Giants are 29th in runs scored, 23rd in batting, 27th in on-base percentage and 23rd in slugging.


“We just have to keep believing that they’ll get back to being who they are,” Bochy said of his players. “Meanwhile we’ll try to do little things to try to get runs across the board. We’ve got some good hitters here. I might have jinxed us by saying we have a better offense than at this point last year.”


Buster Posey, who carried the team offensively in the second half last year, saw his average dip to .241 on May 8. But he brought it up to .264 with a five-game hitting streak through Monday.


Posey agrees with his manager that doing the little things matter.


“I think it’s going to take just stringing together some good at-bats whether it’s getting some walks, moving runners over,” Posey said. “Our pitching’s so good that if we do that, we’re going to win some ball games.”


Quotable: “We’ve got too much talent to be swept by anybody at Yankee Stadium, even if we’re playing the ’27 Yankees.” — Yankees’ owner Hank Steinbrenner, after his club was swept by the Red Sox over the weekend.


Diamond Notes: After New York Yankees’ DH Jorge Posada took himself out of Saturday’s game against Boston because he felt disrespected, the team considered releasing him immediately, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported. Posada, hitting just .165, was dropped to the ninth spot in the batting order…Kansas City pitcher Vin Mazzaro became the first reliever since 1942 to allow 14 earned runs in a game in the Royals 19-1 loss to Cleveland on Monday…The Dodgers have had only two home games with attendance of at least 40,000 since the opening-season series against the Giants.



Copyright © 2011  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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