Measles kills two in Switzerland as cases rise

05/03/2019 03:00 | 2

This is the greatest number of cases reported in the USA since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000. The measles virus can live up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. The disease is more common outside the US, and can be particularly fatal to kids under five. The World Health Organisation says there has been a 300% rise in measles cases so far in 2019 compared to 2017.

In short, vaccines are the best way to prevent spreading the measles, and even those not vaccinated as children are able to get the shots.

"Measles is probably one of the most contagious viral illnesses known", said Sara Lopez, nurse manager for the Summit County Public Health Department. The county in New York City's northern suburbs declared a state of emergency Tuesday over a measles outbreak that has infected more than 150 people since last fall, hoping a ban against unvaccinated children in public places wakes their parents to the seriousness of the problem.

"Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease that can spread quickly, so if you or your child are not vaccinated against the disease and you were at the Tucson International Airport, there is a risk of getting measles", Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said in a news release.

Andrew Pavia, chief of the division of pediatric infectious disease at University of Utah Health, said he's often asked, "What's the big deal?" about measles because it's just "a childhood disease". "Vaccination is our most powerful tool to control the spread of imported measles". The CDC updated its guidelines, recommending two doses, in 1989.

Data show the vaccine is most effective if it's administered when a person is at least one year old. As a result, anyone vaccinated against measles since 1989 should have received two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Infants ages 6 months to 11 months should receive one dose of the MMR vaccine. Adults who are at high-risk for exposure, including college students and worldwide travelers, are advised to get two doses.

Children in Sanpete County who haven't been fully immunized with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine have been barred from attending school after two confirmed and other "probable cases" of mumps.

AAFP News reached out to AAFP Commission on Health of the Public and Science Chair Beulette Hooks, M.D., of Midland, Ga., for her take on the current measles dilemma, as well as on the merits of vaccination in general.

Adults born before 1957 are likely to have acquired natural immunity, however adults of that age in a high-risk group - such as with compromised immune systems - should get a vaccine.

Yes. Adults who haven't been vaccinated should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine, the CDC recommends.

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