Measles is common in many countries; unvaccinated travelers could bring the disease to the US and eventually spread it across the States.
In November, over 1,000 cases of measles were reported in 31 states, making the US one of the countries experiencing the disease outbreak.
Based on the new report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), measles killed more than 100,000 people last year. California was one of the countries with the highest number of cases (72), with the largest outbreak affecting 131 Californians.
Reports say that there are several factors affecting the increase of measles cases — international travels, disruption in health services, and mistrust of vaccines; WHO considered anti-vaccine sentiment as one of the biggest health threats of 2019.
According to the CDC, many of these cases were the result of parents not vaccinating their children. Some parents avoided vaccines because they were dubious of its safety; others felt that their parental rights were being infringed since immunizations were required for children before school entry.
The common misconception about measles being a mild childhood illness also contributed to the outbreak.
Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, a public health officer for Health Services Agency in Stanislaus County, said that measles is, in fact, a very serious disease with a high fever. It can take a toll on anyone, regardless of age. Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director, added that measles is a threat to children all over the world; the growing number of kids killed by the disease speaks volumes about the peril of measles.
In hopes of lowering the deaths caused by measles, Vaishampayan encouraged everyone to update their vaccines, particularly those who are going to travel internationally. She said that free vaccines are available yet those who don’t have insurance would need to pay for a small administration fee.