Measles cases in the United States for the year 2019 have already surpassed that of the whole year of 2018. Many are concerned that this disease will travel to their communities.
This highly infectious disease is caused by the measles virus and is airborne, meaning that the coughs and sneezes of infected people help spread it. There is a vaccination readily available to many, and the chances of getting infected after being vaccinated are extremely low.
If one contracts the disease, the prognosis is not especially bad or serious, as most survive, but there are a number of possible complications that could occur. One of these risks is acute measles encephalitis which may cause brain injury or death.
From Jan. 1 to March 28 this year, 387 cases have been reported. This is 15 more cases than what was reported in all of 2018. The US is at its second highest number of measles cases since the disease was eliminated in 2000. The year with the highest number is 2014, in which there were 667 reported.
Six outbreaks are currently ongoing in 2019, with outbreaks being defined as 3 or more cases in a given area. The locations in which the outbreaks are occuring are Santa Cruz and Butte Counties in California, Rockland County in New York, New York City and Washington.
In Rockland, a 30-day order is barring minors who are not vaccinated against measles from public places, including schools, restaurants, places of worship and shopping malls. There are 161 cases of measles and 85 percent of the victims are under 19 years of age.
Many are panicked and blaming those who do not vaccinate for the measles virus. Because of fears of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, there is a growing movement of people who are against vaccination of their children. Measles has resurged all over the world, and the blame is being placed mainly on these people. People who put others at risk because they believe in a theory that is widely rejected by medical science.
Past outbreaks have been caused by a number of things; most, however, are the result of unvaccinated communities. In 2018, 17 outbreaks occurred and were mainly happening in response to unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish regions. In addition to this, there were outbreaks associated with travelers returning from Israel, where a large outbreak is still taking place.
In 2017, an outbreak with 75 reported cases transpired in a Somali-American community that had poor vaccination coverage. The other year with the highest number of outbreaks was again associated with unvaccinated communities.
Additionally, many of the 23 outbreaks that year were related to bringing the disease back from the Philippines. There is another outbreak in the Philippines that was declared in February this year. Thousands are infected and hundreds have died.
CDC says they are monitoring the outbreaks and the best way people can protect themselves from measles is to make sure they have been vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine.