It’s April and This Year’s Measles Cases Have Surpassed 2018 Total

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Measles has been reported in 15 states this year.

The United States is currently experiencing one of the worst years for measles outbreaks in recent history.

As of March 28, 2019, there have been 387 individual cases in 15 states, the reported Monday, surpassing the total count for all of 2018 — which was 372.

This is the second greatest number of U.S. cases since the disease was declared eliminated back in 2000.

Six outbreaks are currently taking place in Rockland County in New York, New York City, New Jersey, and Washington, along with Santa Cruz County and Butte County in California, according to the CDC.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington have all reported measles activity this year as well.

The current outbreaks have been triggered by travelers who caught the disease abroad and brought it back home where it spread.

“Every year, unvaccinated travelers (Americans or foreign visitors) get measles while they are in other countries and bring measles into the United States. They can spread measles to other people who are not protected against measles, which sometimes leads to outbreaks,” the CDC .

Although measles hasn’t been a major threat in the United States for nearly 20 years, it remains a common disease in parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.

“Measles was actually eliminated in the United States in 2000 thanks to a highly-effective vaccination program. However, it is still common worldwide in other countries. Because travel abroad is common, if the virus has been introduced into our communities, then the infection quickly spreads,” Dr. Megan Berman, an internal medicine physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told Healthline.

In recent years, travelers have contracted the virus from England, France, Germany, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam, .

Currently, Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines are experiencing large measles outbreaks, according to the CDC’s Travel Health Notices. Italy, Serbia, Japan, and Greece — among others — recently experienced outbreaks as well.

Before you travel abroad, it’s imperative to get vaccinated against the measles. The vaccine is up to 97 percent effective at preventing transmission.

The CDC recommends infants between ages 6 and 11 months should receive one dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Children 12 months and older — in addition to teenagers and adults — should take two doses for full protection.

If you haven’t gotten the vaccine, have a compromised immune system, or plan to travel with an infant younger than six months, avoid traveling overseas and stay away from areas in which an outbreak is occurring.

Measles is incredibly contagious. About who aren’t immune to measles will get infected if exposed to the virus.

The virus can easily be transmitted in public places without person-to-person contact. Additionally, because the measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours, the disease can be spread long after the the person with the infection has left the area.

In some cases, measles — which causes fever, cough, runny nose, and rash — can be difficult to diagnose at first. Because symptoms typically appear 7 to 14 days after a person’s been infected, we often don’t know who’s been exposed to the virus.

“People are contagious for about four days prior to the rash showing up. Before that, it just looks like a bad cold. By the time we figure out someone has measles, they have had the chance to infect lots of people,” says Dr. Richard Rupp, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

To prevent measles from spreading, most of the population — 92 to 95 percent — must be immune.

Unfortunately, though, we’re continuing to see low vaccination rates in certain pockets of the United States. This vaccine hesitancy has caused the virus to spread like wildfire in these communities, health experts say.

U.S. health officials are actively investigating measles cases and contacts, says the CDC. By tracking measles activity, vaccinating and quarantining susceptible individuals, and issuing exposure warnings when necessary, health officials are working hard to get the outbreaks under control.

“I expect this infection to be contained by vaccinating the community and limiting exposure to the virus,” says Berman. “If Ebola can be contained in a developing country, then we can control measles with our resources and help from the community.”

If you don’t plan to get the MMR vaccine, it’s crucial to avoid public settings where there are susceptible people, the CDC advises. This includes schools, malls, childcare centers, and hospitals.

All in all, the key to containing the measles is to limit public exposure to the virus and encourage more people to get vaccinated.

The vaccine not only protects us from the virus, but protects others — especially infants and immunosuppressed people who cannot get the vaccine — as well.

The United States is currently experiencing one of the worst years for measles outbreaks in recent history.

There have been 387 reported cases this year, which surpasses the total count for all of 2018.

In order for the highly contagious virus to be contained, more people must get vaccinated and limit exposure to the disease.



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