Measles outbreak 'accelerates,' health officials warn

Desiree Burns
April 17, 2019

"We're seeing an increase over the last three years of the number of parents who are opting to not have their children vaccinated", said AZ Dept. of Health Services Director, Dr. Cara Christ.

In addition, some people may be at a slightly higher risk of getting measles because they received only one dose of the MMR vaccine.

In a statement, World Health Organization said preliminary global data which revealed 300 per cent increase follows consecutive increases over the past two years.

"While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend".

As of last week, New York City health officials had reported 285 measles cases since the fall, most in children under 18; 21 have been hospitalized, five in intensive care units.

However, actual numbers are likely to be 10 times as high, as only a fraction of cases are reported, according to the United Nations health agency.

In Australia, we've had 92 cases confirmed in 2019 - again, close to the number of cases for the whole of a year ago.

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"We are on track to have one of the highest numbers of cases of measles reported since we eliminated the disease in the year 2000". The emergency required unvaccinated people in the affected areas to get the vaccine or face fines of up to $1,000. (That means that the highly contagious virus is no longer considered to be continuously spreading in the country, though worldwide travelers still bring in cases each year, sparking outbreaks of various sizes.) This year's tally is surpassed only by that of 2014, which saw 667 cases.

Increasing the coverage of vaccination maximizes protection, but 95 percent vaccination coverage is needed to prevent outbreaks, according to WHO.

Although it is possible to get the measles even if you've been vaccinated, it's quite rare: Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine - which are given as part of the standard US childhood vaccination schedule - are 97% effective at preventing measles, according to the CDC.

Health officials on Monday said 555 measles cases have been confirmed so far this year, up from 465 as of a week ago.

Measles can be serious for all age groups, but it is most unsafe for children under 5 and adults over 70.

"The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated", the CDC noted. The only year where there were more cases was in 2014 when there were 667 reported cases over the entire year.

"These outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring", the CDC website stated, adding that people should be vaccinated before traveling internationally. And the European Union is tallying about a thousand cases a month.

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