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Measles Outbreak 2019 – What You Need To Know

Measles Outbreak 2019

As noted by the New York Times, it was almost 20 years ago that measles was taken off of the list of the biggest public health threats in the United States. But times have changed since that significant development in 2000, as demonstrated by the recent numbers that indicate the return of measles outbreak in an astounding manner.

In 2019 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far recorded 127 cases of measles. That is in addition to the 327 cases that had been reported in 2018.

When Did Measles Make Its Return?

This onslaught of cases began in September 2018, when the outbreaks of measles were reported in New York City and New York State amongst unvaccinated people in the Orthodox Jewish communities. According to the CDC, the instance was linked to travelers from Israel, where a measles outbreak had been happening at the time.

The local government of New York City elaborated on this through its official website, mentioning that the outbreak began when an unvaccinated child from an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn traveled to Israel and caught the virus. Additional children from Brooklyn who were reported to be on similar trips to Israel also caught the virus.

Since measles is a highly contagious disease that could affect 90 percent of people that come in contact with an affected person, the cases spread throughout the neighborhood. As of February 12, 2019, 73 cases of measles have been reported in Brooklyn just since this past October.

As travelers kept pouring in through the fall and winter from Israel as well as European countries where measles outbreaks were occurring, the cases not only spread in different areas of New York, but several other states as well.

The CDC Has Reported Multiple Measles Outbreaks in 2019

According to the CDC, an outbreak is defined as three or more cases reported in the same vicinity. So far, the health protection agency has recognized five total outbreaks in the following areas:

Apart from New York, Texas, and Washington, the states that reported individual cases of measles to the CDC in 2019 include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Oregon

What Measures Are Being Taken?

The Governor of Washington declared a public health emergency on January 25, 2019 to deal with the measles outbreak. But similar measures are yet to be seen by the State of New York, the location that has been hit hardest by this highly contagious disease.

While New York City has its own, separate health department to deal with the outbreak in Brooklyn and pertinent neighborhoods, the public health department for Rockland County falls under New York State. And state officials are confident that there is no need to declare a public health emergency, The Journal News reported.

The health officials in these states are currently implementing different measures to control the current onslaught of measles through approaches such as holding emergency vaccination clinics throughout different spots in affected regions.

While the health departments deal with this highly contagious disease through their different approaches, the question about the reasons behind these outbreaks still remains.

What Has Caused Measles to Return With Such Intensity?

As reported by multiple media outlets in the past and present, the outbreaks are linked to areas where anti-vaccinations communities reside in large numbers, including the Orthodox Jewish communities in New York and the Clark County citizens in Washington.

Schools belonging to the Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County, an area which has shown one of the largest outbreaks in the present attack of measles, are known for reporting vaccination rates as low as 60 percent. The aversion to vaccination is so profound in the local community that some schools overreport the vaccination rates, as noted by the New York Times.

Brooklyn and other New York areas that are affected in the current measles outbreaks report similar findings, where locals simply do not want their children to get vaccinated. According to health officials, this makes it difficult to protect such areas from a disease as contagious as measles.

But New York is not the only area to be of note here. As mentioned above, Clark County, Washington is a noticeable name when it comes to anti-vaccination sentiments. According to reports, almost a quarter of children in the county go unvaccinated, which is why it’s not difficult to deduce why the area reports the second largest measles outbreak in the country.

The Sentiment Behind Anti-Vaccination and Why You Should Know It’s a Debunked Approach

Much of the stigma around measles vaccination comes from the fear that the immunization may cause autism, which has been widely-refuted through scientific studies.

But the fear seems to be winning in this case, which is what leads to such large numbers in measles outbreaks.  

The last time that a measles outbreak was even close to this scale was in 2016. That incident was linked to a single traveler who had been infected with measles and visited an amusement park in California. From there, 147 cases of measles had been reported, but no definite source was found.

How to Keep Your Family Safe from Measles

Vaccination is the best approach to move forward and minimize measles. One single shot of the MMR vaccine, which is the immunization approach for measles, can offer up to 93 percent protection from the disease, while two doses can offer up to 97 protection from it.

While measles vaccination typically starts at 6 months, if you or your child have not been vaccinated before, then you should get the first dose of MMR vaccination immediately.

Common symptoms of measles may include:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Rash

If you notice any of the symptoms in a child or adult, make sure to take them to the nearest hospital where they could be given the required level of care.

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