Measles outbreak: USA measles cases hit highest mark in 25 years

CDC
Number of measles cases reported by year

"People don't remember how sick it can make you, and people don't remember that it can kill you", said Dr. Paul Offit, chair of vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine.

The CDC says the MMR vaccine is very effective and it is safe to get another dose.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) said in a news release that it has received a number of measles reports in residents, including a local outbreak of four confirmed cases linked to each other after worldwide travel and a single case after global travel.

On Tuesday Sacramento County confirmed two cases of measles in a family that had recently travelled internationally, the first reported cases this year in the county. There were 963 cases in 1994.

Most of these cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community and the initial child with measles was unvaccinated and acquired measles on a visit to Israel.

The disease can be spread through a sneeze or cough, and the incubation period typically lasts 21 days.

Transmission of the measles virus from a pregnant woman to her fetus (congenital measles) has been reported in neonates born to women who had measles within 10 days of delivery.

Unlike some other vaccinations, the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is administered in two doses - both doses are necessary for maximum protection, though even a single dose is better than nothing.

Measles, considered eliminated from the United States in 2000, leads not only to fever and a rash, but also can cause pneumonia and encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that can have long-term consequences.

New CDC figures reveal 681 people in 22 states have been diagnosed this year, outpacing the 667 people diagnosed in the whole of 2014.

"Many parents are afraid".

"All (county) public health officers are working in tandem with the California Department of Public Health" as they investigate the measles cases, Bongiorno said. "It's not so easy to discern what is real and what is not".

"Measles-a respiratory disease that causes a skin rash, fever, cough, and runny nose-can be risky, especially for babies and young children".

The CDC has noted that those outbreaks are linked to travelers who were infected and brought measles back from other countries, including Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines. No deaths have been recorded this year. Los Angeles county health officials said four of the cases are linked to one another after worldwide travel, and an additional single case of measles also occurred after global travel.

Ezike added that while the state's overall vaccination rates are "strong", some areas remain vulnerable to outbreaks if just one person is infected.

Los Angeles health officials warned this week that students and staff at UCLA and Cal State L.A. may be at risk of catching measles, an announcement that has raised questions about universities' susceptibility to disease outbreaks. A second outbreak began in March with 11 cases reported.

Federal health officials attributed the record-setting number to a few large outbreaks, specifically in NY and Washington state. Only four months into the new year, there have already been 695 reported measles cases in this country.

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