Samish Public Health News Release
The 2015 Measles Outbreak in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from January 1st through February 6th, 121 cases of measles have been reported across 17 States including 4 cases in Washington State. The majority of these cases are part of a large ongoing multi-State outbreak linked to an amusement park in Southern California and involve individuals who were not vaccinated against the measles virus.
Thanks to a highly effective vaccination program and a strong Public Health System, in 2000 measles was declared eliminated in the United States. But, there are nearly 20 million cases of measles worldwide each year and 164,000 people die from this highly infectious disease. Unvaccinated travelers can continue to bring the virus back and the infection can spread to communities and groups of people – especially children who are not vaccinated here in the United States.
2014 saw the largest resurgence of measles cases reported in the past 15 years – 23 outbreaks with 644 cases in 27 States. Public Health officials are concerned that the resurgence is occurring because of the number of individuals who are choosing not to vaccinate their children.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that effects all age groups. It is spread from person to person through the air and by coughing, sneezing touching your eyes, nose or mouth and contact with a contaminated surface. The virus can survive in airborne droplets or on contaminated surfaces for up to two hours. If exposed to the virus, 90% of people who are not immune will become infected. Measles is very serious. It can lead to ear infections, pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death. For every 1,000 children who get the measles one or two will die from the disease.
The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best way to protect against getting the measles. The first dose is recommended at age 12 through 15 months and the second dose is recommended at age 4 to 6 years.* Adults born before 1957 do not need the measles vaccine. Anyone born during or after 1957 who has not had measles or been vaccinated is at risk and should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine. For those who are unsure if you’ve had the measles vaccine or had the measles, we urge you to check with your health care provider about getting vaccinated. There is no harm in getting another MMR vaccine if you’ve already been vaccinated.
The measles vaccine not only protects you but those around you from getting the measles – especially infants, young children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. In Washington State, parents are free to exempt their child from vaccinations for medical reasons, religious reasons, personal or philosophical reasons. In an effort to further protect the community by increasing vaccination rates, several States are currently considering legislation that would remove the option for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children based solely on personal or philosophical reasons. If passed, this legislation would increase vaccination rates to help protect the community from the spread of infectious disease.
In the California outbreak, many of those infected with the measles were not vaccinated. The measles is a vaccine-preventable disease! Protect yourself, your family and the entire community from infectious disease by getting immunized.
Get vaccinated: Prevent and Stop the 2015 Measles Outbreak!
* If traveling abroad with an infant, check with your pediatrician before leaving on a trip to make sure your child is protected.
If you need help finding where to go for vaccinations in your area, including the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, please visit: http://www.vaccines.gov/getting/where/index.html
For more information about the measles, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html and http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Measles
Recommended immunizations for children from birth to 6 years old: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf
The information in this report has been compiled from the CDC and various other relevant government agencies and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional health-care provider.