By: Richard Meyer ~Copy Editor~
The number of reported cases of measles is set to surpass previous years in 2015 after an outbreak beginning in southern California. The outbreak, affecting more than 120 people, extends to 17 states across the nation, the most recent of which is Georgia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began tracking the spread of the disease on Jan. 1 after there were reports of people having the disease after visiting Disneyland in southern California in December. The disease spread quickly to those who had not been vaccinated or who had not had booster shots after the initial vaccination.
“This is not a problem with the measles vaccine not working,” Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Dr. Anne Schuchat said. “This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used.”
There is no cure for measles, although the vaccination is about 97 percent effective. The disease had previously been declared eradicated in 2000. Measles is spread by airborne pathways, being transmitted through coughing and sneezing. A person becomes contagious long before symptoms are present and the virus can live on surfaces and linger in the air for long periods of time after the infected person has left.
Other symptoms include highgrade fever, a rash beginning on the face and spreading to the rest of the body and white spots in the mouth. The CDC reports that an infected person on average can spread he disease to 18 other people. The most at-risk people are infants who cannot receive the first vaccination until they are at least six months old.
Many agencies have begun imploring parents to vaccinate their children in light of the outbreak.
President Barack Obama, the U.S. Surgeon General and the CDC, as well as organizations such as Autism Speaks, have joined the efforts.
The outbreak has renewed a national conversation about vaccinations, as many parents elect not to have their children vaccinated for fear of side effects.