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Measles Outbreak Linked to Travel, Lack of Vaccinations

Recent US cases underscore the critical need for measles immunization.

January 29, 2024

According to CNN.com, a measles outbreak in the U.S. is linked to international travel and waning vaccination rates, with recent cases reported in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Georgia. In Philadelphia, the health department confirmed nine cases traced back to a traveler. Virginia officials issued exposure warnings for travelers at two airports, while Georgia reported a case in an unvaccinated individual.

The U.K. also faced a significant outbreak, with more than 300 cases. Dr. Thomas Murray, an infectious disease expert at Yale University, highlighted measles’ contagion risk, noting that about 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus would develop symptoms.

Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, largely due to vaccination campaigns. However, global outbreaks remain a risk, especially among unvaccinated groups. Murray emphasized the threat posed by unvaccinated travelers visiting countries with active measles outbreaks.

U.S. vaccination rates fall short of federal targets, with only 92% of children receiving the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine by age 2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend two doses of the MMR vaccine for children, highlighting its role in preventing measles outbreaks.

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, red eyes, and a characteristic rash. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets and can linger on surfaces. Complications, particularly severe in young children, can include encephalitis and pneumonia.

Health officials advise those exposed to measles to seek medical advice promptly. Vaccination within 72 hours of exposure can prevent or mitigate the illness. Treatment is mainly supportive, with hospitalization necessary for serious cases. The CDC also recommends vitamin A for children with severe measles.

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