As both a mother and a doctor, I find myself concerned about the resurgence of measles in our communities. The CDC has issued a recent statement about the cases highlighting that we now have as many cases in 2024 as we had throughout all of 2023. Historically, the cases in the United States have been travel related. However, not all the current cases can be linked to travel, suggesting human to human transmission in the community.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed a troubling increase in measles cases, challenging both public health officials and parents alike. As a mom, I understand the instinct to protect our children from harm. As a doctor, I recognize the critical importance of vaccination in preventing the spread of certain infectious diseases like measles. Here are five crucial things that every parent should know about measles:

Measles is not a trivial childhood illness. It is highly contagious, spreading through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can last on surfaces for 2 hours after the infected person leaves. In fact, measles is so contagious that up to 90% of susceptible individuals who come into close contact with an infected person will contract the virus. 

CDC ISSUES MEASLES ALERT AS 2024 CASES HAVE ALREADY EQUALED ALL OF 2023

While some may dismiss measles as a harmless childhood illness, the reality is far more severe. Measles can lead to serious complications, particularly in young children and those with weakened immune systems. These complications can include pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and even death. The harsh reality is, nearly 3 of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of measles is crucial for early detection and containment. Common symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and a characteristic rash that typically begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. If your child develops these symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly and inform healthcare providers of any potential exposure to measles.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM A FORGOTTEN DISEASE NOW COMING ACROSS THE BORDER

The measles vaccine, typically administered as part of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, is effective at preventing measles. Studies have shown that two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles. Vaccination not only protects your child but also helps to create herd immunity, reducing the likelihood of outbreaks and protecting vulnerable individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical reasons.

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Understanding and staying informed about local and international outbreaks of measles is paramount for both individuals and communities. By being aware of outbreaks, people can take proactive measures to protect themselves and others, such as avoiding travel to certain places, practicing good hygiene, and avoiding crowded places where the virus can easily spread. 

Safeguarding children from the surge in measles cases necessitates a multifaceted approach. Vaccination remains the cornerstone of prevention, providing robust protection against this highly contagious disease. Additionally, limiting travel to areas with known outbreaks and maintaining awareness of local outbreaks empowers parents and communities to take proactive measures, ensuring the safety of children and vulnerable populations.

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