The number of measles cases is continuing to grow across the United States. And in light of a case of the disease being confirmed in Birmingham, Michigan, one school has requested unvaccinated students stay home to help prevent further spread of the measles.
As of April 4, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that the number of measles cases has grown to 465, which is up significantly from only 387 just the week prior. According to NBC News, most cases impact children, and though these numbers are preliminary, the total cases for 2019 is already on track to surpass the country's record highest, which was 667 in 2014, and 963 in 1994.
The CDC reported that the outbreaks have hit several states including California, Michigan, and New Jersey, and that New York City accounted for nearly two-thirds of the cases reported last week. The CDC also confirmed that 80 percent of the cases were in children aged 19 or younger.
A case of measles was confirmed at Birmingham's Derby Middle School at the end of last month, the Detroit Free Press reported, prompting officials to request that any students who are unvaccinated stay home, to help prevent further spread.
The announcement was made via the intercom during morning announcements and a letter sent home to parents, the Detroit Free Press reported. "You're welcome to connect with your parents about it," the school reportedly told students. "This is not something that we necessarily make decisions about. We have to follow the guidelines that are set by Oakland County. If you have any questions, we encourage you to talk to your parents."
Derby Middle School did not immediately respond to Romper's request for comment, but in a statement issued to the Detroit Free Press, the school said:
The health and well-being of our students are top priority and we are adhering to health guidelines set by our county and state. We look forward to the return of all of our students as quickly as possible.
In another statement to ABC News affiliate WXYZ, the district said there will be an "exclusion period" for unvaccinated students and that school officials are following guidelines from the Oakland County Health Department. "In the case of measles, the exclusion period is 21 days from the date the exposure occurred," the district told WXYZ. "The health and wellbeing of our students are top priority and we are adhering to health guidelines set by our county and state. We look forward to the return of all of our students as quickly as possible."
According to the CDC, the measles virus is "so contagious," that if one person has it and another is not vaccinated, that individual has a 90 percent chance of contracting the disease. The CDC noted, "Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears."
Beyond Michigan, on April 9, Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency regarding lack of vaccinations and outbreaks, The New York Times reported. The mayor wrote in a tweet, "Unvaccinated children in the zip codes of 11205, 11206, 11221 and 11249 may not return to school or daycare for the duration of this outbreak. If you choose to not vaccinate, you will be fined. We have to protect our kids and our families."
The actions officials have taken has caused heated discussions amongst parents, a lot of which has circled back to the religious exemptions that parents can claim to ensure that their children do not get vaccinated, according to the NCLS. There are currently 17 states that permit these exemptions — New York being one of them — though some are even arguing about the legitimacy of them when so many children's lives are potentially at stake.
Ultimately, the rise in measles cases are increasing due to herd immunity decreasing and gaps in vaccinations. This refers to how some children who legitimately cannot receive vaccinations due to health issues or age will rely on the immunity of everyone else to keep the entire population well.