Anti-vaccine propaganda among reasons for quick spread of measles

A child receives a measles vaccination

Although there have been no reported cases of measles in North Carolina during this latest outbreak, health officials say it's vital people are protected from the extremely contagious viral disease.

In the two reports the CDC said the 78 new cases lift the nation's total so far this year-which isn't even half over-to 704 cases in 22 states as of April 26. The vaccination status of 125 of the remaining 201 cases was not known. "Now is the time for everyone to make sure they are protected against measles", said Andrew Pavia, MD, the head of pediatric infectious diseases for University of Utah Health. So far, 66 of people with measles (9%) have been hospitalized, and 24 (3%) had pneumonia. An outbreak of particular concern is taking place in NY, where there have been over 300 cases this year, mainly concentrated in the Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, which anti-vaxxers are reportedly targeting with misinformation.

But as a precaution, the NSHA is encouraging residents to check their immunization records, and ensure that they've got two shots of the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella.

Health officials say current measles outbreaks in the USA are fueled by the anti-vaccination movement, which questions the safety of vaccines and frequently spreads false information on social media.

Following implementation of the one-dose measles vaccine program, there was a "rapid and significant reduction" in reported cases in the United States through the 1980s, the CDC said.

The cases in New York State's Rockland County and New York City, for example, have been tied to an unvaccinated Orthodox Jewish child who picked up measles on a trip to Israel, and who then spread it among the largely unvaccinated community to which that child returned. The virus can linger in the air for up to two hours, according to the Centers for Disease Contol and Prevention.

Adults who have any doubt about their immunity should get another dose, Schaffner said: "It's safe".

"People who live in Orthodox Jewish communities where there is measles-they're the highest risk group right now", she says. The three-part MMR vaccine includes the mumps and rubella vaccinations as well, according to a release from the Indiana Department of Health.

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In Dudley, it was 1,127 children who had not received their first MMR vaccination by the age of five, and a further 1,613 failed to have the second injection. Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing.

"I honestly think it is important that people realize that just because we had the vaccines, doesn't mean we're immune", said Mattson. In research studies, almost everyone developed signs of immunity to measles with a single dose - and the vast majority of the time, this immunity is lifelong, experts say. Had I not been vaccinated, I might have had a more severe disease.

A highly successful vaccination program caused the number of measles cases to plummet in the US, but the disease remains endemic in other parts of the world, where it claims tens of thousands of lives annually.

In general, adults who are going to be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles transmission should make sure they have received the correct dose (s) of MMR vaccine.

Globally, 169 million children did not receive the first dose of the measles vaccine over the same seven-year period. "Currently the recommendation is anybody born 1957 or before is considered to have had the disease or been exposed to it at some point and time in the past, so they are considered to be immune", said Dr. Jay Zdunek, chief medical officer for Austin Regional Clinic.

If you received the MMR shot after 1968, it should last a lifetime.

Zdunek said a blood test can check for that, but it's often not covered by insurance and can cost more than $100.

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