A growing concern for many parents is the 2019 measles outbreak, a health risk that is showing no signs of losing steam anytime soon. On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the number of measles cases worldwide has risen by 300 percent in the first three months of the new year. Unfortunately, that example is just one of five that proves the 2019 measles outbreak should be taken seriously by everyone.
Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, which means there was an "absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. The CDC attributed the elimination to a "highly effective vaccination program," "better measles control," and a "strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks."
Cut to almost two decades later, when measles is making a resurgence in the United States due to non-medical vaccine exemptions, a lack of herd immunity, and shifting attitudes towards vaccinations, to name a few examples, according to The Verge.
Although many parents are well-aware of the 2019 measles outbreak and the implications it has for the health and well-being of the public, others might not be aware of how serious this epidemic is. And if you want to familiarize yourself with the history of the outbreak thus far, take a look at these five examples that prove measles pose a serious threat to Americans.
The Outbreak In Washington Is Climbing
At the start of the new year, Clark Country in Washington State found itself in the midst of a measles outbreak. Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 23, a staggering 22 cases of measles were reported, according toThe Oregonian, a number that was mostly comprised of unvaccinated children.
As of April 16, 2019, the outbreak in Clark County has since reached 73 confirmed cases, according to The Washington State Department of Health.
Measles Cases In The U.S. Have Skyrocketed
The CDC first reported in March that measles cases in the U.S. were rising at a rapid rate. The agency has since updated its report, noting that from "January 1 to April 11, 2019, 555** individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 20 states."
The report warns that this is the "second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000."
Some states are more affected than others, so visit the CDC's website regularly for updates about your home area.
Rockland County In New York Is Facing An Outbreak
To deal with the outbreak, the county issued an order stating that anyone in Rockland County who is under 18 and "who has not yet been vaccinated will be barred from public places until they receive the MMR vaccine or until the emergency declaration expires in 30 days," according to ABC News.
The initial 153 number has since risen to 186 confirmed cases, and the county plans to issue a new order that would keep "anyone who contracts measles or who is unvaccinated and exposed to measles to stay home for a determined amount of time, while being banned from public indoor and outdoor places," as NBC New York reported.
If a person violates the order, according to NBC New York, they could face a $2,000 per day fine.
Iowa Reported Its First Case Of Measles Since 2011
An unvaccinated person in Iowa contracted measles while on a trip to Israel, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced Monday.
Although there isn't any "threat to the public" at this time, the case is significant because it's the first case of confirmed measles in Iowa since 2011.
Measles Cases Are Up By 300 Percent Globally
WHO announced on April 15 that measles cases "rose by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018." Even more alarming? The stats follows "consecutive increases over the past two years."
Current outbreaks, as noted by WHO, include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine. WHO's report provides many eye-opening stats, so don't hesitate to read the report if you have the time.
Health officials may feel like a broken record at this point, but the first step to prevent measles are vaccinations. Make sure your child receives their first dose of MMR between 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose between 4 through 6 years of age, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. If you have any concerns/questions about the vaccine, don't hesitate to reach out to a trusted medical professional.
Another initiative to fight the 2019 measles outbreak is to spread public awareness about the importance vaccines, and to dispel lingering myths about immunizations. A recent study, for instance, disproved the popular myth that the measles vaccine causes autism, according to HuffPost.
The 2019 measles outbreak is concerning, but there are action items parents and stakeholders can pursue to help eliminate this public health crisis.