The latest record for measles cases in the U.S. was set in 2014 with 667 reported cases for the twelve month year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are close to breaking this record, and then some. Just shy of four full months into the year, the U.S. has seen 626 reported cases of measles in 22 different states. Some states with a high concentration of cases have even resorted to fining individuals who refuse to be vaccinated against measles. This serious illness is spread when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. It is a very contagious virus that can cause very serious symptoms.
What We know:
- The United States is not the only place where measles are on the rise. The World Health Organization reports that measles cases are on the rise on a global scale.
- The U.S. declared endemic measles elimination in 2000.
- The key factors in eliminating measles in the United States include: vaccinating children between 12-15 months, vaccinating school-aged children a second time, vaccinating high-risk groups, maintaining measles awareness among professionals and the public, and working with domestic and international government agencies on global measles mortality reduction and elimination.
- A study published in 2013 by the CDC showed no link between vaccines and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
- The best prevention for measles is to get the measles/mumps/rubella shot.
- 28% of children younger than 5 years who contracted measles (between 2001 and 2013) required hospital treatment.
- Serious complications of measles can include pneumonia, croup, ear infections, encephalitis, brain damage, deafness, and death.
- Unvaccinated people can get measles from being in the same room as an infected person up to 2 hours after the person is gone (CDC Parent Fact Sheet)
If someone in your family has fallen ill and you suspect measles, this is a very serious concern and should be reported to your doctor or local health department. The first signs of measles infection is a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever, and red eyes. Children may also develop Koplik’s spots (small red spots with blue/white centers) in the mouth before a skin rash develops. If a rash appears 3-5 days after symptoms start, it is time to visit the doctor. The measles rash may begin as red, flat spots on the forehead and turns reddish/brown as it moves down the neck, torso, arms, legs, and feet. The fever and rash should slowly go away after a few days, but the recovery will take longer. Children with a measles infection should be supervised by a doctor during recovery, should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, and allowed to rest. Never give a children with a viral illness aspirin or any form of aspirin. Keep your infected child away from others until the rash has been gone for at least 4 days. Do not go near people with compromised immune systems.
If you live in a state with a high concentration of measles cases or travel abroad and plan to do so with your child or at-risk family member, make sure to fully vaccinate and prevent measles infection from affecting your family, your community, and the world.