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Third S.D. County Child Dies in Measles Epidemic

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 13-month-old baby who had spent most of the last four months on a respirator has died, becoming the third child to die in San Diego County in the measles epidemic.

Jovany Farfan, whose first birthday was March 28, died Wednesday night of respiratory arrest, Children’s Hospital spokesman Mark Morelli said.

The boy was diagnosed with measles when he was admitted to the hospital Jan. 20, and he developed pneumonia as a measles complication, Morelli said.

County health department spokesman Ron Yardley said the death reinforces the department’s message that all children should be immunized against measles, preferably at 1 year of age. A second dose of vaccine is also being recommended at school entry, or for children who already are in school.

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The second doses can only be obtained through private medical offices, however, because county clinics have money only for first doses, he said.

Last weekend, an emergency immunization campaign at several clinics gave measles vaccine to 1,262 children, Yardley said. The department was pleased because about half the children were Latino, the group that has been hardest hit by the measles epidemic, he said.

All of the children who died in the county since February were Latino. The others were Hector Lopez, 10, who died Feb. 22, and Ismael Yepez, 2, who died April 27.

Health officials note that, when younger, the Lopez boy had received a shot against measles, but it did not give him immunity. It is because of such “breakthrough” measles cases that doctors are recommending that children receive a second dose of vaccine at or after age 5.

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