Measles Outbreak Spreads, Hitting Adults The Hardest

The measles outbreak is spreading from coast to coast across the United States. Though the contagious disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cited that this year, 14 states reported 102 cases of measles, which turns out to be the greatest number in fourteen years.

This latest measles outbreak is linked to the Disneyland parks in California. According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, the measles outbreak is likely to have come from overseas.

Dr. Schuchat told NBC News reporters the following.

“We don’t know exactly how this outbreak started but we do think it was likely a person infected with measles overseas. We assume that someone got infected with measles overseas, visited Disneyland Park, and spread the disease to others.”

Wherever the cause of this recent measles outbreak, since December, 2014, the CDC reports 62 percent of the Californians who contracted the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a rubeola virus are adults. The CDC is urging adults to be vaccinated against measles.

Those most vulnerable to complications associated with measles are children younger than 5-years-old, and adults over 20. Symptoms may include diarrhea, lung and ear infections, brain swelling, and, though very rare, death.

Measles symptoms first appear like signs of the flu or cold. Someone who has the early signs of the measles may have a runny nose, cough, red, watery eyes, and a high fever. About two or three days later, he or she may find white spots in the mouth.

Again, two or three days following the initial symptoms of measles, a red, spotty rash may develop on the skin of someone infected. Typically, at the onset, the rash appears on the face near the hairline and eventually works its way down the rest of the body. With the development of the spotty rash, a fever may also materialize.

WebMD reported comments about the measles made by Dr. Schuchat at a CDC briefing that took place last week.

“It can be a serious disease for people of all ages. We are starting to see more adults get measles and spread it. If you’re not sure if you’ve had measles vaccine or not, or if you never had measles, we urge you to contact your doctor or nurse and get vaccinated. There’s no harm in getting another MMR vaccine if you’ve already been vaccinated.”

According to Dr. Schuchat, the biggest problem related to this measles outbreak is people not being vaccinated.

Dr. Schuchat expressed her concern to NBC News.

“It is frustrating that some people have opted out of vaccination. I think we do have some communities with many who have not received vaccines.”

The CDC wants people to be aware and help in preventing the spread of measles. They remind us of what happened between 1989 and 1991, when 55,000 individuals got measles and 123 people died as a result of getting this highly contagious disease.

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia, CDC; Modifications: Jason Tetro]