Measles outbreak in 21 US states: What we know and don't know about the highly contagious disease

CDC's 2018 midyear report of measles appears to be significantly higher. In 2017, 118 people from 15 states and DC had measles while in 2016, 86 people from 19 states had it


                            Measles outbreak in 21 US states: What we know and don't know about the highly contagious disease

The contagious virus Measles which spreads through coughing and sneezing has been confirmed in 21 states. More than a 100 cases of measles have been diagnosed in 21 states and the District of Columbia. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared that the symptoms which include having high fever, rashes all over the body, a stuffy nose, and reddened eyes, will disappear without treatment within two or three weeks. However, one or two out of a 1,000 children who get the disease could die due to complications. 

The vaccine known as the MMR or measles mumps and rubella vaccine is very effective (Getty Images)
The vaccine known as the MMR or measles mumps and rubella vaccine is very effective (Getty Images)

From January 1 to July 14, CDC recorded around 107 cases of measles in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and the District of Columbia.

When compared with recent years, CDC's 2018 midyear report of measles appears to be significantly higher. In the year 2017, 118 people from 15 states and DC had measles while in the year 2016, 86 people from 19 states had the disease. In the year 2014, 667 cases in 27 states were reported to the CDC and out of those, 338 were due to a single large outbreak. That year was the highest number of cases ever since the measles elimination was declared in the year 2000.

The CDC said that most of the people who caught measles had not even been vaccinated. They also believe that measles comes from countries where Americans regularly visit such as England, France, Germany, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam. CDC also reports that around 20 million people around the globe get measles each year. 

Various complications can arise once a person has contracted measles. Diarrhea and ear infections, which may lead to hearing loss, pneumonia and brain swelling are some potential complications. It is also necessary to keep in mind that measles is a contagious disease and people with low immunity levels are at a risk of catching it sooner. The spreading of measles can also take place when there are unvaccinated people in communities. It is reported that unvaccinated infants are susceptible to complications of measles. The CDC advises that they are best protected by the herd immunity. Herd immunity is when an estimated 95% of the total population of a country has received the required amount of doses of the vaccine. 

The vaccine is known as the MMR or measles mumps and rubella vaccine is very effective. The required amount is two doses which are about 97% effective. Children should receive the vaccine in two does- the first one between 12 months and 15 months and the second between the ages of 4 and 6 years old. If an adult has received the two doses as a child, then they don't need a booster shot. According to the World Health Organization, measles is one of the highest leading diseases which cause death in children. It is also reported that an estimated 450 people die each day worldwide as a result of this illness. 

Anyone who suspects they might have measles should stay home and should not attend school, childcare or work. You might need to be isolated (at home or in a hospital) to avoid spreading the highly infectious disease to other people.

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.