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Health

Tracking measles cases in the United States



CNN

Multiple measles outbreaks in the United States are driving up case numbers and raising alarm among public health officials, especially as vaccination rates among children lag.

By the end of March, there were already more cases reported in 2024 than there had been in all of 2023, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles is a highly contagious airborne disease. This can lead to serious health consequences and even death, especially in unvaccinated young children.

General symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a rash of red spots. In the United States, about one in five unvaccinated people who contract measles will be hospitalized, according to the CDC. About 1 in 20 children will develop pneumonia, and others may develop a dangerous swelling of the brain called encephalitis. Up to 3 in 1,000 children infected with measles may die from respiratory and neurological complications.

But measles is preventable thanks to a very effective vaccine. Experts recommend that children receive the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, or MMR, in two doses: the first between 12 and 15 months of age and the second between 4 and 6 years of age. One dose is about 93% effective in preventing measles infection; two doses are about 97% effective.

The increase in measles cases this year may be attributed to falling vaccination rates and increased travel, which can lead to unvaccinated people contracting measles abroad and bringing it back to the United States. United, according to the CDC.

Measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000. Imported cases are expected, but when vaccination rates are high, the risk remains low and outbreaks are rare. Outbreaks in 2019, particularly two in underimmunized Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, threatened measles’ elimination status in the United States.

“If a measles outbreak continues for a year or more, the United States could lose its measles elimination status,” according to the CDC.

Because measles is highly contagious, a high level of vaccination coverage is essential to minimize its spread. The United States has set a vaccination rate goal of 95%, but coverage among kindergartners has fallen below that figure in recent years. By the 2022-2023 school year, only 93.1% of kindergartners in the United States had completed their MMR vaccine series, leaving approximately 250,000 people at risk. Coverage varies widely by state and community.

Vaccination coverage has fallen in 41 states since the 2019-20 school year – the last school year with children vaccinated before the Covid-19 pandemic and the last year the country met the 95% coverage goal. CDC.

Twenty states met or exceeded 95% during the 2019-20 school year, when the national coverage rate was 95.2%. Only 13 states met the CDC’s goal in the 2022-23 school year, when national coverage fell to 93.1%.

News Source : www.cnn.com
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