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Are We in Line for a Measles Outbreak?
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Health officials issued a warning about a potential measles outbreak in mid-March, when two cases popped up in people who traveled through airports in Newark, Memphis and Detroit – but does that mean we’re on our way to another measles outbreak across the country?
Every year, the Centers for Disease Control tracks measles cases in the U.S. In 2014, a record 667 cases from 27 states were reported – and that was the highest number since measles eradication was documented in 2000.
Here are the facts:
- Most people who get measles are unvaccinated
- Measles is still common in some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa
- Travelers into the U.S. still bring measles in
- Measles can spread like wildfire when it reaches a community where there are unvaccinated groups of people
Even one case can lead to an outbreak, because it’s spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms start with a fever, runny nose, red eyes and a sore throat. That’s all followed by a body rash.
Measles can be dangerous – in fact, it can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, deafness or even death. Experts say the best way to protect yourself and your family from measles is through vaccination, which doctors recommend most children get (kids who have weakened immune systems and other conditions may not be good candidates for the MMR shot).
What if You Get Measles?
Right now, the cases came from passengers who visited the North Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, terminals B and C of Newark Liberty International Airport, and Memphis International Airport on March 6, but you can keep up with recent cases on the CDC’s website here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – including what you think about the measles vaccine and whether it has any impact on how quickly and how far measles outbreaks spread, so please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.