Updated: Jan 20, 2020
The United States of America has been experiencing a record-high case of measles in 2019 with over 700 cases diagnosed in four months compared to 372 cases in all of 2018. Health officials have been investigating these correlated outbreaks as they expect the number to only rise as the year continues.
Specifically, Rachel Becker, health reporter, issued a statement reading, “…measles in the US continues to climb…the highest case count since 1994, and 2019 still has eight months remaining…” Surely, this extremely contagious infection can easily be prevented by noticing symptoms and seeking medical help as soon as possible.
Common symptoms include prolonged muscle pain, sneezing and excessive cough, headaches, sore throat, and pink eye. However, the most common symptom of measles is red, blotchy skin in addition to skin rashes.
Major outbreaks have been discovered in New York and Washington, but smaller outbreaks have also been noticed in areas such as New Jersey, California, and Maryland. Experts have noted that smaller outbreaks have been linked to these larger ones and advise individuals to take precautionary action in order to prevent this painful infection.
The easiest way to prevent measles is a simple vaccine! However, many people choose to not vaccinate their children due to religious beliefs. Julia Belluz from Vox shared, “It was actually measles outbreaks in the 1960s that inspired a push to have states require children to get inoculated before starting kindergarten.” By doing so, all cases of measles were terminated by the year 2000, yet have reappeared in recent years for an unknown reason.
Experts reveal that religious groups living in the same area and choosing to not vaccinate their children are making it extraordinarily high for an outbreak to occur.
It is especially important for children to get vaccinated as their immune systems are not as strong in comparison to adults. As a result, the condition can be fatal in children, specifically under the age of 5. Nonetheless, individuals with measles require hospitalization and medications to combat the strong viral infection.
States are making it a priority to encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated. Schools especially have been taking extreme measures regarding their safety regulations to keep their students healthy throughout the uncertainty of these frequent outbreaks. This includes prohibiting sick students on school property, fining people who choose to not get vaccinated, as well as quarantining students and closing schools if necessary.
Symptoms of measles are important to notice as the small viral infection can easily transform into a large outbreak, affecting hundreds and possibly resulting in death.
Similar incidents have occurred in US history, but none have been this severe, considering the fact that there are still 8 months left of 2018 and the problem can easily amplify. The primary way to prevent measles is to get a MMR shot, otherwise known as measles, mumps, and rubella. The vaccine is usually injected with two separate doses, but is proven to be entirely effective in preventing measles.
With measles outbreaks on the rise, vaccines are the best option in preventing the infection and since the infection is only noticeable after about 2 weeks of the initial virus, it is vital to get the vaccine as soon as possible. What are your thoughts on the measles outbreaks in the US? Do you think more people will feel the need to get vaccinated or will the amount of cases simply rise as the year goes on?