measles

This year saw the largest outbreak of measles in the U.S. since 1994, with 1,250 cases reported as of Oct. 3, largely driven by families choosing not to vaccinate their kids. Worldwide, the disease has resurfaced in areas that had been declared measles-free.

With measles making a comeback in many upper-income countries including the United States and still rampant in some poorer nations such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar, a leading measles expert is warning of a danger beyond the spread of the disease itself: There's mounting evidence that when a person is infected with measles, the virus also wipes out the immune system's memory of how to fight off all sorts of other life-threatening infections – ranging from gastro-intestinal bugs that cause diarrhea to respiratory viruses that trigger pneumonia.

Destination: Bulgaria. It's a small country in Eastern Europe, often overlooked by American tourists. But my husband's father grew up in Bulgaria, so it's long been on our travel list.

It's also on the list of countries with recent measles outbreaks. Bulgaria has had almost 800 cases this year, according to the World Health Organization.

How Measles Detectives Work To Contain An Outbreak

Jun 10, 2019

On any given day, more than 4,000 people pass through the library at California State University-Los Angeles. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 900 cases of measles in the United States this year, including two in Florida. Meanwhile the number of cases of Hepatitis A in the state continues to rise.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

Amid one of the largest measles outbreaks in the U.S. in recent history, vaccines are on the minds of many Americans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that the number of measles cases this year has climbed to 839 in 23 states, affecting mostly unvaccinated people. Most people in the U.S. are vaccinated against measles when they're children as part of the routine immunizations they get in primary care.

On a Tuesday afternoon last month — a work and school day — more than 1,000 parents and children made their way to the state Capitol in Salem, Ore., bearing signs reading, "hands off our rights" and chanting "we do not consent!"

Like activists around the country this year, they had been mobilized by what for many is a noncontroversial fact of life: vaccines.

St. Lucia prevented passengers and crew members from getting off a cruise ship at its port this week after someone on the vessel was diagnosed with measles, according to a senior health official on the island.

"We thought it prudent that we quarantine the ship," Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James, the Caribbean nation's chief medical officer, announced this week, saying the decision was based on information from "two reputable sources that there was a confirmed case on board a cruise ship" that arrived at the island on Tuesday.

Americans could be forgiven for not knowing that much about measles. After all, it's been 51 years since an effective vaccine was introduced, quickly turning the disease from a common childhood experience to a rarity, and nearly two decades since the disease was declared eliminated from the U.S.

But outbreaks have surfaced throughout the country over the past few months, affecting more than 700 people.

Measles is on the rise again, all around the globe.

Though the number of people affected in the U.S. is still relatively low compared with the countries hardest hit, there are a record number of U.S. measles cases — more than 700, so far, in 2019, according to the CDC — the highest since the disease was eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000.

Updated at 6:23 p.m. ET

Hundreds of students and faculty at two universities in Los Angeles have been asked to stay home unless they can prove that they've been vaccinated against measles.

The LA campuses of the University of California and California State University imposed the quarantine after they became aware of people infected with measles who had potentially exposed hundreds. At UCLA, a student exposed at least 500 people earlier this month; at Cal State, someone with measles went to a library and encountered hundreds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 695 measles cases in 22 states.

"This is the greatest number of cases reported in the United States since measles was eliminated from this country in 2000," says a CDC statement issued late Wednesday.

Measles is surging. Last week the U.S. recorded 90 cases, making this year's outbreak the second largest in more than two decades.

So far this year, the U.S. has confirmed 555 measles cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday. That's 50 percent higher than the total number recorded last year, even though we're only about a quarter of the way through 2019.

And the virus isn't slowing down.

Associated Press via Miami Herald

As five U.S. states deal with outbreaks of measles, a case was reported recently in Broward County.

While one individual case does not mean an outbreak, South Florida health officials are stressing the importance of vaccinations. And they want to make sure people of all ages here are well-informed about the disease and who might be most at risk.

A new online measles simulator shows how quickly the disease could spread in Florida.

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