Measles Making a Comeback in the U.S.… Outbreaks Increasing in Several States

When many of us were children, we got the measles.

In fact, if parents learned that one of their kids’ friends had the measles, they’d arrange to have their kids play with the other child. That would increase the chances of getting the disease. Why?

That way, kids could get measles, get over it and never have to worry about getting it again. Because if they didn’t get measles as a kid, they might get it as an adult. And then it could be life-threatening.

Measles vaccinations replaced this strategy very well. By the year 2000, the disease was declared “eliminated.”

Travelers Bring Virus to Our Shores

Not so fast. Measles seems to be making a comeback. Thanks to travelers from overseas where the disease is still very much alive.

In the Philippines, for example, more than 8,000 people have been sickened by measles. And more than 130 have died. Japan is experiencing its worst measles outbreak in years.

Around the world, more than 100,000 people died from measles in 2017. Mostly children under the age of 5.

In recent years, there have been scattered outbreaks in the United States. Including five already this year. In states such as Texas, New York, Washington.

Nearly 130 cases have been confirmed in 10 different states this year. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that out of every 1,000 children who contract the disease, one or two will die from complications.

Highly Contagious… Sometimes Deadly

Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads in the air through coughing and sneezing. The symptoms include a high fever, rash, stuffy nose and red eyes. It can also create serious respiratory symptoms.

The disease can also lead to other problems. Including ear infections leading to deafness. One in 20 children with measles will get pneumonia.

One in 1,000 children with measles develops encephalitis. That’s swelling of the brain, which can cause brain damage.

The World Health Organization says that measles is a significant cause of death. At least in countries where the measles vaccination is not routine.

Just One Case Raises Red Flag

In the U.S., a state is considered “protected” if 95 percent of the people have either already had the disease or are immunized against it.

All it takes is for one case to show up locally and the medical community goes on high alert.

How contagious is measles? Very. All it takes is inhaling droplets from an infected person’s nose or mouth when they cough or sneeze.

Complicating the matter is the fact that infected people can transmit the measles virus up to four days before they develop a rash. And after the rash appears, they can transmit it for another four days.

Even Lives on Surfaces

The measles virus is so strong and resilient that it can even live on surfaces for several hours.

The CDC says, “You can catch measles just be being in a room where a person has been, up to two hours after that person is gone.”

Kurt Eggebrecht is a health officer in Appleton, Wisconsin. He says, “If there was a room of 10 people and one person was ill, it’s expected a majority of the others would become ill.”

He added that the success rate for the current measles vaccination is 97 percent in those who have received it.

Threat Growing in Washington State

Back in late 2014 and early 2015, a total of 125 cases of measles were identified in two Disney theme parks.

A vast majority of those cases involved people who were not vaccinated or who had no record of a vaccination.

An Associated Press article from last week states that there are currently 66 cases of measles in Washington state. And that it’s now spreading to Oregon. The Washington governor has declared a state of emergency.

Most of the cases involve children under age 10 who have not been immunized. But at least two of the cases involve people who were vaccinated.

Hopefully the medical community will get this under control before it spreads any farther.


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