Because of a series of measles outbreaks around the country, the number of measles cases in the United States is surging. It is on pace to break the record set in 1994.
The Centers for Disease Control said there have been 555 cases of measles in the U.S. this year. Ninety of those were reported in the last week alone. The states that have reported cases to CDC are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
At this rate, the country could surpass the current record for most illnesses in one year. The record was set in 1994, when the CDC reported 963 cases of measles.
Officials say the best way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated.
Measles outbreaks (defined as 3 or more cases) are currently ongoing in 2019 in the following areas:
- New York State, Rockland County
- New York City
- New Jersey
- California, Butte County
These outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring. Make sure you are vaccinated against measles before traveling internationally.
The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.
Measles typically begins with:
- high fever,
- runny nose
- red, watery eyes
Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to the CDC: Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States. Of these, approximately 500,000 cases were reported each year to CDC; of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 developed encephalitis (brain swelling) from measles. Since then, widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era. However, measles is still common in other countries. Unvaccinated people continue to get measles while abroad and bring the disease into the United States and spread it to others. Here is a fact sheet from the CDC.
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