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U.S. sees surge in confirmed cases of measles, CDC reports

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday reported a nearly 20 percent jump in the number of people confirmed with measles in the week since April 4.

From January 1 to April 11, 2019, 555** individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 20 states. This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000.

The CDC had reported 465 cases in 19 states between Jan. 1 and April 4.

In New York City there have been at least 285 reported cases of measles since October, the large majority among members of the Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn. Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the outbreak a public health emergency last week and ordered unvaccinated people in the affected parts of Brooklyn to get the vaccine or face a fine.

Trends in Measles Cases: 2010-2019

According to the CDC, Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles starts with fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles can be prevented with MMR vaccine. The vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.

The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.

Very few people—about three out of 100—who get two doses of measles vaccine will still get measles if exposed to the virus. Experts aren’t sure why. It could be that their immune systems didn’t respond as well as they should have to the vaccine.

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