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CDC Issues Health Alert Over Measles Outbreak

More than 50 countries have had 'large and disruptive' measles outbreaks over the past year

CDC Issues Health Alert Over Measles Outbreak

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health alert to medical professionals over a rise in measles cases.

One person infected with measles can infect nine out of ten unvaccinated people they come in close contact with, the agency said in its health advisory.

So far this year, the CDC has confirmed 58 measles cases as of last week, 93 percent of which were linked to international travel. The majority of cases are among children over a year old who have not yet received a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The bulletin comes just a week after the CDC dispatched a team to Chicago to support local health officials managing a measles outbreak tied to a migrant shelter.

Last month there was a measles outbreak in Florida, while a similar outbreak emerged in January in Philadelphia.

Symptoms of measles infection typically begin with a fever, cough, runny nose, and pink eye, which can last two to four days before a rash is visible, the CDC said.

The incubation period for measles from exposure to fever is usually about 10 days. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with infectious droplets or through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.

According to the CDC, infected droplets can remain on surfaces for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the area.

More than 50 countries had “large and disruptive” measles outbreaks over the past year, twice as many as in 2022, according to World Health Organization (WHO) director of immunization Kate O’Brien, who was speaking at a virtual press conference.

O’Brien said that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted vaccination efforts worldwide, with an estimated 60 million children missing doses over that period.

She said it is “really critical” to get children vaccinated against measles as cases continue to rise.

"It's now a race between whether the catch-up activities can happen quickly enough or whether the outbreaks will continue to scale," she said.

The CDC is urging unvaccinated children to receive all recommended doses of the MMR vaccine, and suggests international travelers to watch for signs and symptoms of measles for three weeks after returning to the U.S.

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