(RxWiki News) Health experts have said that measles was eliminated in the United States. But that may no longer be the case.
As of Aug. 29, 2019, 1,234 cases of measles have been reported in 31 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Recently, measles has been reported in Hawaii. This is in addition to the states the CDC listed last month. Those states include the following: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.
More than 75 percent of the cases reported this year have been from New York.
Measles is still quite common in certain parts of the world. People traveling from these areas can bring measles to the US. An outbreak happens when measles reaches a community in which there are groups of unvaccinated people.
That’s because measles is highly contagious. The virus can easily be spread to others through coughing and sneezing. This is partly because the virus can live for up to two hours where an infected person has coughed or sneezed.
To get measles, all you have to do is touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. You can also get it by breathing contaminated air.
If one person is infected with measles, 90 percent of the unvaccinated individuals near that person will also get measles, according to the CDC.
The majority of people who have contracted measles this year were unvaccinated. The best way to protect yourself is to make sure you and your loved ones have received a measles vaccination.
One dose of the vaccination is 93 percent effective against measles. Two doses are 97 percent effective.
The measles vaccination is also referred to as the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Typically, the first dose of the vaccine is given between 12 and 15 months of age. A second dose is given between the ages of 4 and 6. In certain cases, the vaccination schedule may be slightly different.
Measles can lead to complications. This year, around 125 people have needed to be hospitalized, while 65 people have reported complications like pneumonia.
If you are not sure whether you have received this vaccine in the past, speak with your health care provider, who can help determine the next step for you.
Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS