The number of measles cases in the U.S. has skyrocketed in recent years, reaching its highest level in nearly two decades — since the disease was deemed eliminated in 2000 — and the best way to prevent the spread of this dangerous and potentially fatal disease is vaccines.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 981 cases have been confirmed in 26 states between Jan. 1 and May 31. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992, and nearly three times as many cases as in 2018.
Measles is a highly-contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed.
If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses or mouths, they can become infected.
“Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected,” according to the CDC.
Measles symptoms appear seven to 14 days after contact with the virus and typically include high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. The measles rash appears three to five days after the first symptoms.
“Measles isn’t just a little rash. Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children,” according to the CDC.
Kentucky is among the states impacted by the outbreak, with two siblings who reportedly contracted the virus in February while traveling outside the U.S. The two children were not vaccinated, according to state health officials.
There are also cases in other states, including Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Washington, New York, Michigan, Illinois and California.
The anti-vaxxer movement of recent years has contributed heavily to this recent surge in cases of measles. The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated, according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the outbreaks in the U.S. began when unvaccinated people travel out of the country to areas where measles are widespread. When they return, they expose others to dangerous disease.
Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease, which means there is absolutely no reason for children in the U.S. to suffer through the lifethreatening pain and illness associated with the virus.
As the outbreak wavers closer to home, the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to be vaccinated at measles by receiving the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccination.
Being vaccinated not only protects you but also those around you who are immune compromised or may not be able to be vaccinated because of age or for health reasons.
— The Winchester Sun