In a May 25, 2011 article at Boston.com, an article reads, “Measles continues to spread in the state, with two new cases confirmed on Monday.” According to the article the number of confirmed cases of measles is rising in the state of Massachusetts.
The article reads, “Measles continues to spread in the state, with two new cases confirmed on Monday. One involved a 23-month-old boy from Boston who had received his first measles vaccination last year, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. The other was a teen-age boy from outside the city who was treated at a Boston health care facility.”
These 2 new cases brings the state total to 17 this year. A significant increase considering in each of the previous four years, Massachusetts has had just one to three cases. But, the increase is not just taking place in Massachusetts. The surge has been occurring nationwide as well, with federal health officials announcing yesterday that measles cases have been on their fastest pace since 1996. Some 118 infections have been reported so far this year in 23 states, compared with 50 in a typical year.
“In a number of cases, we don’t really know where people got it, and that’s of concern,” says Dr. Anita Barry, director of the infectious disease bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission, in the article.
There have been 12 new cases reported this month alone in Massachusetts, and most of the patients have no known connections. The seemingly random strikes by the virus have public health officials worried about containing the spread.
Back in February, two cases were tied to the French Consulate located in the Back Bay, and last week measles was confirmed in two elementary school students who attend the Driscoll School in Brookline. The two students are related and hadn’t been vaccinated. A few other cases were attributed to recent overseas travel to France and other countries with significant measles outbreaks numbering in the thousands.
The cases this week, however, can’t be explained except for the fact that the virus is very contagious and remains infectious and airborne for up to two hours after an infected person has been in the area, says Berry. Most likely, the individuals unknowingly came into contact with someone who was infected.
Apparently according to the article, it makes no difference if a patient has even been vaccinated. There have been cases of vaccinated children being affected by the virus.
For example the 23-month-old boy– who wasn’t hospitalized and is now recovering — developed full-blown symptoms of fever, rash, red watery eyes, and cough. Although he was given the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine at the appropriate age of 12 to 15 months, Berry says, he apparently was among the 5 percent of toddlers who fail to become immune from the first shot.
So, based on this information, should Americans be concerned of a measles outbreak? The truth is no. While this year’s surge in measles is worrisome, the chances of getting infected still remain remote. “Although this is the most cases we have seen of measles in five years, thankfully we have high levels of vaccination in Massachusetts and we do not foresee a major outbreak,” says Julia Hurley, a spokesperson with the Department of Public Health.
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