Trident Health System - September 11, 2018

According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a total of nine outbreaks (defined as 3 or more linked cases) have been reported so far in 2018. Recent media reports misinterpreted data issued by CDC surveillance teams stating a multi-state measles outbreak in the United States. Even though there is NO current multi-state measles outbreak in the United States, the measles is still common in many parts of the world. The number of reported cases in the U.S. in 2018 is similar to recent years and in expected range.

For parents who haven’t gotten their kids vaccinated, here’s a wakeup call: Most of the people infected were never vaccinated against the disease.

As of August 11, 2018, THE CDC reported that 124 individual cases of measles had been confirmed in 22 states and the District of Columbia.*

In 2014, cases reached a record high: 23 outbreaks and 644 cases. According to the CDC, measles was eliminated from the United States in 2000, largely thanks to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. However, with increased travel to places where the vaccine is not available -- and more parents opting not to vaccinate their kids -- the number of cases is on the rise.

“Almost 1 in 5 children isn’t vaccinated,” says Anthony Komaroff, MD, of Harvard Medical School. “This means every year children get severe illnesses and possibly even die from diseases that could have been prevented by a vaccine.” According to Dr. Komaroff, some parents don’t immunize their children because they think the diseases being prevented are not common enough to worry about. Or they’re concerned about vaccine safety. But the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. “Infectious diseases are still widespread around the world,” says Komaroff, and “all vaccines are carefully studied before they are licensed for routine use.”

The MMR vaccine is given in two shots, the first around the age of 12 to 15 months, the second around 4 or 5 years old.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected. Measles typically begins with:

  • high fever
  • cough
  • runny nose (coryza)
  • red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).

Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth.

Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit.

After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

Measles can also cause ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. However, the most serious complication is encephalitis, which can be life-threatening.

There is no way to cure measles once someone is infected. “The only treatment centers around trying to lessen the severity of the disease and making your child as comfortable as possible,” says the Honor Society of Nursing (STTI). STTI recommends using a humidifier to ease sore throat and coughing and giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever.

It’s hard to imagine that any American could die from measles in 2018, but anyone who has not been vaccinated is at risk. The good news: The way to stop more outbreaks is just a shot or two away. Make sure you and your family are protected with MMR vaccine.

* The states that have reported cases to CDC are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.


Disclaimer: Content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.