According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 963 new cases of the measles were reported in just one week which makes it the biggest jump so far this year.
Currently, 555 total cases have been reported for 2019 making it the second highest number of cases in the US in 25 years and we’re less than four months into the year.
Dr. Nancy Messonier, who is the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says she is concerned about the number and the speed of the current outbreak which isn’t not going to stop on its own.
According to the World Health Organization, measles cases are also rising worldwide with 110,000 cases already being reported this year which is an increase o 300 percent from the same time period last year.
Measles is a fast moving and life-threatening disease and approximately 40 people, most of whom would be children, are infected over a five to ten minute period of exposure, wrote Henrietta Fore, who is the executive director of UNICEF and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is the director general of the World Health Organization, in an opinion piece on CNN recently.
According to the CDC, some of the detrimental results of getting measles is the development of encephalitis or swelling of the brain which can lead to convulsions and leave a child deaf or with intellectual disabilities and at least 1 or 2 out of 1,000 children will die from it.
So far this year no fatalities have been reported this year or last year in the US.
The first measles vaccine became available in 1963. Before then hundreds of people died from it and according to the CDC, each year at least 48,000 were hospitalized.
Since the availability of the vaccine, the number of cases dropped drastically to 963 cases in 1994 with the disease being declared eliminated in the US in the year 2000. Because the disease is not being continuously transmitted it is declared eliminated even though there are sporadic outbreaks around the country. If the disease were to be continuously transmitted for longer than 12 months then it would no longer be considered eliminated.
The CDC recommends two doses of the MMR or measles, mumps and rubellacombination vaccine for children. The first dose which gives 93% protection should be given at 12 to 15 months and the second dose which gives 97 % protection should be administered around the age of 4 to 6 years.