measles sign

A sign warns people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg on April 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

CDC: US Measles Cases Top 700, Majority Are Unvaccinated Kids

April 29, 2019 - 1:44 pm

(WWJ) Measles was declared eliminated in our country in the year 2000, but the recent rise in cases is alarming U.S. health officials. 

Updating the national tally on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control said measles is continuing to spread this year, with 704 cases now confirmed in 22 states.

While it's still early in the year, the total for 2019 already eclipsed the total for any year since 1994, when 963 cases were reported.

"While most parents are getting their children vaccinated, the vast majority of these cases involve children who have not been vaccinated," said Alex Azar, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, in a conference call with reporters. "Everyone should be protected against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases."

According to the CDC, this year's count includes 44 people who caught the disease while traveling in another country. Some of them triggered U.S. outbreaks, mostly among unvaccinated people. That includes the largest outbreaks, in Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City.

There are 43 total confirmed cases in Michigan this year; most of them in Oakland County. No deaths have been reported, but many infected people have been hospitalized.

"Measles is not a harmless childhood illness, but a dangerous, highly contagious disease," Azar said. "Most of us have never seen the deadly consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases can have on a child, family or community -- and that's the way we want to keep it."

The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6.  However if a child will be traveling internationally the vaccines must be given earlier, so check with your doctor.

Measles is spread by person-to-person contact and through the air. 

Symptoms usually begin 7-14 days after exposure, but can appear up to 21 days after exposure and may include:

  • High fever (may spike to over 104˚F).
  • Cough.
  • Runny nose.
  • Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).
  • Tiny white spots on the inner cheeks, gums, and roof of the mouth (Koplik Spots) 2-3 days after symptoms begin.
  • A rash that is red, raised, blotchy; usually starts on face, spreads to trunk, arms, and legs 3-5 days after symptoms begin.

Find more information on measles from the CDC at this link. For updated on the Michigan oubreak, visit Michigan.gov/MeaslesOutbreak