Because of a recent spike in cases in nearly a dozen states, the Centers for Disease Control is telling healthcare workers to be on high alert for possible cases of measles.

Yes, the CDC is warning about a disease that was reportedly eradicated in the United States in 2000.

What is measles?

Measles is a virus that is most known for causing an itchy rash on the skin.

After a 10-12 day incubation period, the virus starts out like a flu.  Patients often have a fever, runny nose, cough, and inflamed eyes.

The rash comes on three to five days following the start of the infection.  The rash generally appears on the face, chest, and limbs.

Complications can include pneumonia, diarrhea, and ear infections.  In rare cases, the infection can cause seizures, blindness, and inflation of the brain.

The virus is incredibly contagious.  90% of those who are not immune/vaccinated will get it if they live in a house with a person who has measles.

There is no treatment for it, but the total duration for the virus is typically less than two weeks.

Newborn baby with chickenpox, measles or rubella lying in the hands of doctor

The recent outbreaks

According to Fox News, an elementary school in Weston, Florida, just confirmed its sixth case of measles.  The ages and genders of the infected have not been released.

In addition to the outbreak in Florida, there have been cases reported in Arizona, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

In total, there have been 20 confirmed cases in this recent outbreak.

So far, there have not been any confirmed cases in the New England states.

The United States is not the only place that has been seeing outbreaks.  The United Kingdom, which reportedly eradicated the virus in 2017, has seen a spike in cases.

Abby Anaday, Unsplash
Abby Anaday, Unsplash

Why are we seeing measles outbreaks in the United States?

It will not come as a surprise to many that the outbreak is believed to have been brought on by the pandemic.  Due to a variety of pandemic-related factors, many children did not get all of their vaccinations on time.  This includes the MMR shots, which protect against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Here's what the CDC had to say about the outbreak.

How do you stop the spread of infection?

The steps for preventing the spread of measles are similar to the steps for preventing the spread of any other virus.  Wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, and avoid sharing utensils with someone who is ill.

Hopefully, these outbreaks will burn themselves out before we start seeing infections in New England.

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