Northern Virginia Leads Measles Outbreak
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently confirmed forty-two measles cases had been confirmed in 2021.
This CDC data published on October 13, 2021, indicates an over 100% increase in measles cases in just two weeks when twenty cases were confirmed.
Measles outbreaks can happen in areas where people may be unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, including the United States.
Last year, the CDC confirmed only thirteen measles cases in the U.S.
The new measles outbreak (as defined by 5+ cases) is centered in three jurisdictions, says the CDC.
Unfortunately, one of these jurisdictions is the very populated northern Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported on October 18, 2021, Fairfax County (12) and Prince William County (7) met the measles outbreak definition.
All of these measles cases have been identified in people younger than 20 years of age.
To date, no community transmission has been identified at this time in Virginia.
However, all people confirmed to have measles in Virginia recently traveled from Afghanistan as part of the United States government’s emergency evacuation efforts known as Operation Allies Welcome.
Afghanistan has already reported 1,298 measles cases in 2021.
The virus is released when an infected person breathes or coughs. It spreads quickly from person to person through the air or by direct contact with nose or throat discharges from someone infected.
The VDH says because measles is so contagious, it is likely that healthcare providers will find more cases and report them to VDH, as they are required to do.
Moreover, VDH is working closely with local, state, and federal partners to stop the outbreak as quickly as possible.
When VDH receives a measles case report, public health officials interview the people with measles to trace their steps and identify others who might have been exposed to the virus. When possible, VDH notifies these people of their potential exposure.
However, sometimes it is not possible to notify individuals directly.
In these situations, VDH notifies the public who might have been at a particular location at a specific date and time. Instructions are provided on what to do next, depending on the person’s measles vaccination status.
Two doses of the measles vaccine are given to provide lifetime protection.
Over 90% of the U.S. population is vaccinated against measles, and approximately 95% of kindergarteners in Virginia are vaccinated against measles.
However, infants younger than 12 months old are too young to be vaccinated. These infants and others who are not vaccinated are very susceptible to infection if exposed to someone with measles.
Note: Since the CDC Health Alert Network issued a Health Advisory CDCHAN-00452 on September 20, 2021, the CDC has yet to disclose the two other jurisdictions reporting measles cases.
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