Measles Resurgence Alarms Health Officials in Maricopa County and Philadelphia

Measles Resurgence Alarms Health Officials in Maricopa County and PhiladelphiaSource: Wikipedia/Photo Credit:Content Providers(s): CDC/Dr. Heinz F. Eichenwald, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Steve Wilson
Published on February 12, 2024

As measles cases sow seeds of concern across America, public health officials are urging parents to take note of the highly contagious virus. The spread has seen local impacts, with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health confirming one such case involving an international visitor, as reported by ABC15. Experts point fingers at lower vaccination rates and international travel as the culprits behind the recent surge.

Philadelphia health officials, have been grappling with an outbreak that traces back to a traveler from outside the United States. This single case led to subsequent infections at a day care, totaling at least five children among the nine confirmed cases, ABC15 learned. It seems the ease with which measles infects the unprotected is truly daunting, with the virus boasting a 90% infection rate among susceptible individuals upon exposure.

Despite measles elimination from the US back in 2000, thanks to a widespread vaccination campaign, lapses in immunization have allowed the virus to find a foothold yet again. It's a stark reminder of the importance of vaccines, especially for children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 92% of US kids have received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine by age 2, which is shy of the federal aim of 95%, states ABC15. This under-vaccination leaves gaps in herd immunity, leaving communities vulnerable.

Health risks associated with measles extend beyond a mere rash and fever. The CDC warns that 1 in 5 Americans infected with the virus ends up hospitalized, and in rare cases, measles can lead to brain swelling, potential brain damage, or even death. The disease, spreads through the air, making transmission as easy as sharing the same room with an infected individual for up to two hours after they've left, the CDC emphasizes.

For parents wary of the continuing threat, the best defense is the MMR vaccine, which has proven to be safe and effective. The recommended two-dose regimen offers lasting immunity, with the first dose given at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 through 6 years. For those with impending international travel, vaccine schedules adjust to ensure protection is in place before exposure to the virus abroad. More details on the vaccination can be found on the CDC’s page dedicated to measles awareness and prevention for parents.