US Measles Cases Hit 25-Year High
A resurgence of the once-eradicated, highly-contagious disease is linked to the growing anti-vaccine movement in richer nations, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified as a major global health threat.
The health department cautions that measles spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes and respiratory droplets travel through the air.
"When enough people make a choice not to vaccinate their children, measles comes back, and that's what we're seeing", he said.
The state, in the country's northwest, declared in January a state of emergency over an outbreak of the airborne infection that causes fever, coughing and rashes that can be deadly in rare cases. Like many in her generation, she received only one dose of the measles vaccine as a child; two are now recommended.
The spread of measles and its resurgence has touched a new record in the US, years after the government officially declared it eradicated from the country. Some researchers say the state is vulnerable to a measles outbreak, because 90 to 95 percent immunization rates are needed to maintain "herd immunity" - protecting citizens from an outbreak - but the state's kindergarten MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) fully immunized rate for the 2017-18 school year was 88.76 percent.
In order to endorse the safety of the MMR vaccine to parents in the United States, several public health agencies have issued statements in the past week. Un-vaccinated people are highly susceptible to it especially if they come in contact with the virus through sneezing or touching. In fact, in 2000, the USA government declared measles "eliminated" because coverage with measles-carrying vaccines, the most common of which is the MMR vaccine, slowed transmission to a historic low of 86 cases. "With a safe and effective vaccine that protects against measles, the suffering we are seeing is avoidable..." That's why Americans aren't seeing widespread cases of measles. In fact, vaccines are overwhelmingly safe.
"Part of the problem is that people are no longer fearful of these diseases, and their fears have shifted to vaccines", Salmon says. Data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows 626 cases have been reported this year alone.
It is one of the most contagious diseases and can cause severe complications, including pneumonia, swelling of the brain and death. "Vaccines provide that safety".
In 2015, TV personality Jenny McCarthy, who has a child with autism, told the NPR program "Frontline", "If you ask 99.9% of parents who have children with autism if we'd rather have the measles versus autism, we'd sign up for the measles".