NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The numbers are staggering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows at least 465 cases of measles have been reported in the United States since January 1 of this year.
According to the CDC, that is 78 more cases than the number reported the previous week.
While Virginia is not among the states reporting cases, local doctors are asking parents to make sure their children are vaccinated. In fact, the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters has started calling parents who have not vaccinated their children.
Doctor John Harrington is a pediatrician with General Academic Pediatrics at CHKD. He says the hospital and its entire medical group is preparing for the worst.
“We are predicting that there could possible be an outbreak of measles here, so we are preparing for that,” said Dr. Harrington. “We are reaching out [and calling] all the kids who have not their MMR who are over age 1 or over age 4, and haven’t had their booster, and we are sending them information to say, please come in and get your vaccination.”
The most common measles symptoms include fever, runny nose and red eyes, then a rash.
“And then by then, it’s already been spread, so that’s the problem with measles, and that’s why people should get their immunizations,” said Harrington. “If you are in a room with someone who has measles, you have a 90 percent chance of getting it.”
Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts and Nevada reported their first cases of measles this year, bringing the total number of states reporting cases to 19. According to the CDC, the other states that have reported measles cases this year are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
It’s risen to the status of a public health emergency in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered mandatory vaccinations Tuesday for unvaccinated people living in select zip codes.
The CDC lists four top things parents need to know about measles.
- Measles can be serious. About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized. The most common measles symptoms include: fever, rash, runny nose and red eyes.
- Measles is very contagious. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 9 out of the 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.
- A child can still get measles in the United States. Measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000 thanks to a highly effective vaccination program. But every year, measles is brought into the U.S. by unvaccinated travelers who get the disease while in other countries.
- You have the power to protect your child. The best protection against measles is a safe and effective vaccine, the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. A child needs two doses of MMR. The first dose at 12 through 15 months old and the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6.