An outbreak of measles, a highly contagious viral illness that is spread through respiration, is being reported in many states including California, New York City, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, just to name a few.
According to a March 31 report in TODAY’s Health, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor, discussed the measles outbreak in Southern California, and the symptoms of the illness.
“There have been 49 cases confirmed in the state so far this year. Eight big pockets are accounting for 77 percent of cases in this country and there are two reasons: under-vaccinated children or unvaccinated children,” and experts expect that more outbreaks will be seen.”
Classic symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny eyes or nose, and a recognizable rash. The highly contagious virus spreads when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
Measles cases had been greatly reduced in the United States after the introduction of the measles vaccine in the 1960’s; but in recent years there has been more fear when it comes to getting children immunized, placing the emphasis on linking immunizations with numerous health-related problems, including Autism.
Dr. Greg Wallace, Head of the Centers for Disease Control Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Polio team, said that “vaccinated people can carry the disease, and when they come into contact with unvaccinated people these people contract the illness. Ninety percent of the time unvaccinated people get the illness.”
“It’s the most contagious of the vaccinated diseases, Wallace said, and because there are “so few effective treatments for measles, vaccines are the best way to prevent it.” Wallace continued, “The vaccine does work and these outbreaks don’t occur unless you have enough people who have not been vaccinated.”
The Michigan Department of Community Health has been urging Michigan residents to get a measles vaccine as far back as 2011. “This is especially important for persons planning international travel, because the current U.S. situation is largely the result of measles outbreaks occurring elsewhere in the world,” said Dr. Dean Sienko, Michigan health department acting chief medical executive. “But it’s also important that non-travelers be protected. We have to keep our guard up against measles by having as many of our citizens protected as possible. This is an easily preventable disease.”