Measles Outbreak: New York officials close schools, issue fines

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Although there have been no reported cases of measles in North Carolina during this latest outbreak, health officials say it's vital people are protected from the extremely contagious viral disease.

The three-part MMR vaccine includes the mumps and rubella vaccinations as well, according to a release from the Indiana Department of Health.

Almost 700 cases have been reported across 22 states amid a resurgence of the highly infectious disease, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the USA since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

Vaccinations are required for children who attend public school, but waivers are provided for parents who object on religious grounds, "and I don't believe there is any standard of proof for that", Giorgio said. Some of them triggered USA outbreaks, mostly among people who are not vaccinated, the AP reports.

The virus has been found in 22 states while more than 66 people have been hospitalised across the US.

"This recommendation is meant to protect those who may have received killed measles vaccine, which was available in 1963-1967 and was not effective", the CDC states online.

In the wake of a Clark County measles outbreak, the Washington Legislature made progress toward doing the right thing and ended a policy allowing parents to opt their children out of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines because of a personal or philosophical objection to immunization.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious respiratory disease. Measles starts with a fever followed by a runny nose, cough and red eyes, according to Wilson County Health Director Teresa Ellen. Those droplets can remain airborne for up to two hours, and readily infect un-vaccinated people who breathe them in.

While the current outbreaks are localized, they are a good reminder that the disease hasn't been completely eradicated, Chatham Health Agent Judith Giorgio said.

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Adults who are going to be in a setting that "poses a high risk for measles transmission" should make sure they have had two doses separated by at least 28 days, which includes students at post-high school education institutions, health care personnel and global travelers, the CDC says.

"These communities are being targeted with inaccurate and misleading information about vaccines", said Nancy Messonnier, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 1989, a two-dose vaccination schedule was adopted in the United States.

Women who are considering getting pregnant should also check on their vaccination status, according to the CDC. Health officials say adults or other age groups who don't have documentation on whether they have had the vaccine or not, can still get the vaccine.

"The 200-year history of vaccines has shown that it's always a challenge to maintain high levels of immunity because any vaccination program will inevitably become a victim of its own success", says Colgrove.

There are various reasons why people are choosing not to get vaccinated, including: religious reasons, personal morals, or medical reasons. Several years ago, she saw estimates of the percentage of vaccinated people in each town in the Commonwealth, "and Chatham, in particular, was on the low side", she said.

Despite ample scientific evidence to the contrary, rumors persist that challenge the safety of childhood vaccinations. In the first week of April, a confirmed case of measles was identified by MA health officials.

Measles symptoms don't appear until 10 to 14 days after exposure, health officials say.

"We have proper precautions in place", Wilkinson said.

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