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Measles Outbreak In Florida Has Health Officials And Parents Concerned 

As of Monday this week, health officials in Broward County, Florida have confirmed eight cases of the measles virus, including one in a child under the age of 5.

The outbreak has mainly been traced to the Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, near Fort Lauderdale, which the 5-year-old patient doesn’t have a direct connection to. However, experts knew that with a virus like this, spreading to various age-groups in different areas is almost guaranteed, according to reports from NBC News.

According to Dr. David Kimberlin, the co-director of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “cases are not going to stay contained just to that one school, not when a virus is this infectious.”

So far in 2024, there have been at least 35 cases of the measles reported across 15 states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, Florida’s outbreak is the biggest in the US. 

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Experts are warning parents about just how contagious measles is, especially with its long incubation period. Health officials are warning residents to take it seriously, and that State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s decision to let parents decide whether or not to quarantine their children or continue to allow them to go to school, will likely allow cases to spread. 

“Measles is the most infectious pathogen in humans that we know of. It’s like a heat-seeking missile. It will find the people who are not immune, and they’re going to get sick.”

NBC News also reported that unvaccinated individuals have a 90% chance of becoming infected if exposed to the measles virus. Katelyn Ketelina tracks illnesses for a website called “Your Local Epidemiologist,” and she stated that “Epidemiology 101 is identify and isolate. This is especially true for outbreaks of measles because of how incredibly contagious the virus is and the fact that people who are infected can spread it for up to three weeks.”

Dr. Ladapo wrote a letter sent to parents at the elementary school last week, stating: “Due to the high immunity rate in the community, as well as the burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school, DOH is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.” 

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Back in 2022, Ohio experienced its own measles outbreak where 85 children, mainly unvaccinated toddlers, were infected. 42% of those children had to be hospitalized, and when the outbreak began, Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts took a different approach to advising parents.

Roberts encouraged parents of unvaccinated children who became infected to have their kids receive one dose of the mumps-measles-rubella vaccine as a “form of post-exposure prophylaxis.” Kids who received the treatment would only need to quarantine for 72 hours, as opposed to the 21-day quarantine requirement for those who remained unvaccinated. 

The MMR vaccine offers 97% protection against infection. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 measles patients are hospitalized, and 1 in 3 out of every 1,000 patients will die. 

“More and more people are questioning vaccines and why people need vaccines. They’re gonna find out pretty soon,” said Dr. Kimberlin. 

measles

CDC Is Warning Healthcare Providers That Measles Cases Are On The Rise 

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. 

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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. 

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“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.