AUSTIN (NBC News/ KXAN) — The number of highly contagious measles cases nationwide is the highest it’s been in 25 years, with 704 cases reported in 2019 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Doctors are urging vaccination, especially for people traveling outside the U.S., saying that without the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine the outbreaks would be much worse.
“The reason there’s only 700 cases as opposed to 70,000 or 700,000 cases is because of the vaccines that we have,” says Dr. Frank Esper of the Cleveland Clinic.
Most of the current cases are in pockets of unvaccinated people, like in New York State which has reported 474 cases so far this year.
Proposed legislation in New York would end all non-medical vaccine exemptions in that state, including ones based on religion.
“You have a first amendment right to practice your own religion, but you do not have the right to endanger your children or worse, other people’s children,” says New York State Senator Brad Hoylan.
That’s the message from a mother in England, a country experiencing similar measles outbreaks.
Jilly Moss posted these photos of her infant daughter on Facebook. Baby Alba was too young to be vaccinated, but caught the measles and had to be hospitalized.
“It has been absolutely horrific watching our daughter fight this,” Jilly Moss wrote about her daughter in the post. “The truth is this all could have been prevented if the protection layer of older kids above Alba had been vaccinated.”
— The typical early signs of measles include a mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
— Two or three days after those symptoms, tiny white spots (Koplik’s spots) may appear inside the mouth.
— Three to five days after the start of symptoms, a red or reddish-brown rash appears. The rash usually begins on a person’s face at the hairline and spreads downward to the neck, torso, arms, legs and feet.
— Once the rash appears, the person’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees.
“Immunization is the only way to prevent measles,” health officials write on the Texas Department of Health and Human Services website. “Measles vaccination is required for school entry in Texas.”
Measles is considered highly contagious. For herd immunity to work, health officials believe immunization coverage has to be above 95%. In Texas, vaccine exemption rates have been on the rise in the last 10 years.
There have been a total of 15 cases of measles in Texas since the start of the year, according to the DSHS.