With flu season on the way out (hopefully), it looks like another disease is taking over the headlines—measles. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that as of Apr. 29 the total number of reported measles cases had reached 704 in 22 states.
So why does it seem like a long-gone disease is suddenly making a major comeback? According to the CDC, the upswing in diagnosed cases is in large part due to lack of vaccination.
In a recent update on measles, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar noted that while most parents do choose to vaccinate their children, the United States is currently seeing the highest number of measles cases since the disease was labeled eliminated. Secretary Azar added, “Most of us have never seen the deadly consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases can have on a child, family or community, and that’s the way we want to keep it. Vaccine-preventable diseases belong in the history books, not in our emergency room.”
Nearly 94 percent of U.S. kindergartners who started school in 2017 had the recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine, according to CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield. Dr. Redfield also added that two doses are 97 percent effective at preventing the disease (one dose is 93 percent effective).
If you’re wondering when the measles outbreak will wind down, unlike the flu this isn’t a seasonal disease. According to Dr. Redfield, “Measles is incredibly contagious. A person who has measles can make other people sick four days before they get a rash. If an infected person enters a room of 10 unvaccinated people nine of them will get measles.” Given the effectiveness of the vaccine, and the contagious-factor, the CDC recommends getting both doses—especially if you or your family lives in an affected outbreak area or plans on traveling outside of the country.
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