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measles outbreak rash on hands

U.S. near worst measles outbreak in 25 years

As of April 2019, the number of measles cases is only 42 away from surpassing the record of 667 cases in 2014. This is the highest since the illness was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.

The total number of states reporting measles this year is 23. The 23 states reporting measles include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington.

New York has the highest number of cases this year. Officials are trying to contain the longest ongoing outbreak in the country since 2000. The outbreak in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods began in October when an unvaccinated child became infected while visiting Israel.

“Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will become infected,” according to the CDC.

A person can spread the illness four days before or after developing the rash and therefore may unknowingly spread it. The virus can be airborne and spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Measles is characterized by a rash of flat red spots. Other symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes.

Complications are more likely in patients younger than 5 and older than 20. They include: ear infections with permanent hearing loss, diarrhea, pneumonia and swelling of the brain. Pregnant women are at risk of premature delivery and having a low-birth-weight baby.

One or two out of every 1,000 people who get measles will die from the disease, according to the CDC. There has not been a death from the illness in the United States since 2015.

One dose is 93% effective at preventing the illness, and two doses are 97% effective.

A person who has had measles or has been exposed is usually immune. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended. The first dose should be given between 12 and 15 months old and the second between 4 and 6 years old. The vaccine can be given as early as 28 days after the first dose.

When vaccination declines, the whole community is at risk. Vaccinated people act as a barrier to disease for their communities. This “herd immunity” reduces the risk of infection for people who can’t be immunized, like young children or those with weak immune systems. 

Of the 626 cases of measles in 2019, 72% are unvaccinated, and 18% have an unknown vaccination status. Of the 626 cases, 487 are in people 19 and younger.

If you suspect you or your child was exposed to measles or exhibits symptoms, give us a call. Vaccination within 72 hours of exposure, for some, may help prevent the disease.

For more information, please contact Staunton Primary Care.