Published: Fri, April 26, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

U.S. Measles Cases Hit Highest Mark in 25 Years

U.S. Measles Cases Hit Highest Mark in 25 Years

The New York City Health Department announced that 2 pregnant women have been diagnosed with a measles infection.

"There are communities in the US and elsewhere where the rate of vaccination is low and has been low, and these pockets can go unnoticed until the virus is introduced", he says.

The vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, or the MMR vaccine, is one of the most effective, state epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek said.

The health department cautions that measles spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes and respiratory droplets travel through the air.

"In one sense, the ability to stop measles by vaccinating children is quite simple", says epidemiologist and pediatrician Bill Moss, interim executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins.

Nationwide, at least 673 cases of the vaccine-preventable illness had been reported in 22 states this year, according to a preliminary tally of state and local health department data by The Washington Post on Wednesday.

The agency attributes the high case counts primarily to a few large outbreaks that have sprung up on the West Coast in Washington State and on the East Coast in both New York City and New York state. It is classified as a member of the genus Morbillivirus in the Paramyxoviridae family, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The New York outbreaks are among the largest and longest lasting since 2000.

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The outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from countries such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring.

The easiest way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated against the disease.

Bongiorno declined to comment on whether the county will declare a measles outbreak.

Measles cases reached 695 across the US this week. A second outbreak began in March with 11 cases reported.

In 1911, Clemens von Pirquet, the first professor and chair of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins, discovered that a child's immune system is suppressed after contracting measles.

Although the "scientific" study which raised concerns about a possible link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism has been thoroughly debunked and retracted, the myth persists in some circles.

"If we are serious about averting the spread of this unsafe but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child, in rich and poor countries alike", UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement. Approximately 90% of people who aren't immunized will come down with measles if they come into contact with an infected individual. Like many in her generation, she received only one dose of the measles vaccine as a child; two are now recommended. "I will say that I will be shocked if we don't see more". Two doses are about 97% effective.

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