(RxWiki News) As more and more patients are diagnosed, measles is quickly reaching the forefront of the public's health concerns.
A measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, has spread to several US states and infected many patients, the majority of whom were not vaccinated.
Measles is a virus transmitted through sneezing and coughing. Symptoms include fever, coughing, runny nose and a full-body rash. The virus was declared eliminated from the US in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But outbreaks do occur from time to time when people from parts of the world where measles is still common travel to the US.
The measles virus was eliminated in the US in part through the measles vaccine, which most children receive. Still, many children do not receive the vaccine.
In 2014, the US had the most measles cases it has seen since 2000, according to the CDC — 644 cases in 27 states. And 2015 is starting off quickly, too, with 121 cases reported in 17 states from Jan. 1 to Feb. 6.
While not all of the 2015 cases can be linked to the first outbreak in Disneyland with certainty, health officials believe many of the cases are linked to the initial outbreak in California.
Twenty states, including California, allow students to skip vaccines like the measles vaccine if their parents object to them, reports NPR. Health officials have indicated that most of the recent US measles patients were not vaccinated.
In this recent outbreak, measles has popped up in multiple states. Several children were infected at a day care in Chicago in early February. More recently, a San Francisco resident might have exposed many people to measles while riding a commuter train.
In the face of this recent surge in measles cases, and despite debate swirling around whether parents should have to vaccinate their children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement urging parents to have their children vaccinated for the measles.
The measles vaccine is usually given to children when they are between 12 and 15 months old and once more when they are 4 to 6 years old. Parents should talk to a doctor about the safety and effectiveness of the measles vaccine for children.