Sept. 25, 2014—The United States is experiencing its biggest surge of measles cases since the disease was declared to be eliminated from the country in 2000, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And the majority of those cases are among groups of unvaccinated people.
A virus on the go
Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 29 of 2014, 592 cases of measles were reported to CDC. That’s a huge jump: In the last 13 years, the yearly number of cases has climbed above 100 only four times, with the highest—in 2011, when there was an outbreak in France—just topping 200.
The majority of those cases are the result of foreign travel. In many parts of the world, measles is still common. Most of the cases this year are a result of an outbreak in the Philippines. It is all too easy for unvaccinated travelers to contract the highly contagious virus abroad and bring it to the United States, where it may continue to spread—which it does easily among communities of unvaccinated people.
Read the original report here.
The best protection
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious, according to CDC, that one infected person will infect 90 percent of the people around him or her—unless those people are protected.
And vaccination—whether or not you plan to travel out of the country—is your best protection against measles.
Being vaccinated also helps to prevent the virus’s spread to vulnerable populations, such as infants too young to be vaccinated and people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
Make sure you and your family are up-to-date on the measles vaccine, which is typically delivered in two doses as part of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) or measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccines.
If you’ve traveled abroad or have been around someone who is sick, keep an eye out for these telltale signs of a measles infection:
- Initial fever followed by cough, runny nose and red eyes.
- A rash of tiny red spots. The rash starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.
Measles is not without danger—it can cause death and serious complications, especially in children younger than 5 years and adults age 20 and older.
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