The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning health officials across the nation that cases of measles are on the rise. The CDC sent out an email on Thursday after reports of nearly two dozen cases since December. They believe these outbreaks are mainly caused by children who were eligible for the vaccine but have not received it, according to reports from USA Today.
The alert stated that healthcare providers should look for patients experiencing rash, fever, and pay attention to those who have recently traveled internationally. The CDC said that officials have tracked seven cases of measles that were brought into the nation from international travelers, and two outbreaks with more than five cases each.
Most of the cases were in children who have not been vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine even if they were eligible.
“The U.S. is at a ‘canary in the coal mine’ moment with rising cases among children of the highly infectious, vaccine-preventable disease,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
Federal data has also shown that there’s been a general decrease in vaccinations in young children, and there are currently record-breaking levels of vaccine exemptions in kindergartners specifically.
“We’re going to start seeing more and more of these outbreaks. We’re going to see more kids seriously ill, hospitalized and even die. And what’s so tragic about this, these are all preventable,” Osterholm said to USA TODAY.
According to the CDC, around a fifth of people who get measles will be hospitalized, and one in 1,000 people who get the virus develop brain swelling that could lead to brain damage. They also warned that one to three in a thousand will die.
“The U.S. is seeing a growing body of parents who don’t want to comply with vaccine recommendations, coupled with lagging access to health care to get vaccinated amid the pandemic,” Osterholm said.
The US has seen outbreaks in Philadelphia and Washington state, with also documenting exposures in the Washington DC area. Separate cases have been reported in Atlanta and New Jersey as well.
“Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 23, there were 23 cases in the U.S. There were 56 cases in all of 2023 and 121 cases in 2022,” the CDC said.
Researchers from the CDC and the World Health Organization recently released a report that highlighted the increases in global measles cases and deaths within the last year. In 2022, according to the CDC and WHO, there were 9 million cases with 136,000 deaths, mostly in children.
Europe has also seen a major rise in measles cases.
“The increased number of measles importations seen in recent weeks is reflective of a rise in global measles cases and a growing global threat from the disease,” the CDC said Thursday.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.