Orange County is a potential hotspot for a measles outbreak, study says

Grant Boone
May 13, 2019

The number of confirmed measles cases in the US has almost doubled since a year ago, with more than 700 cases since January 2019, and researchers warned the epidemic could worsen. "That's the most important thing you can do".

Since measles is still common in many countries, unvaccinated travelers bring measles to the US and it can spread.

The early symptoms of measles are similar to those of other common illnesses, and hard to distinguish as measles. "Measles, in particular, poses a serious public health threat due to the highly contagious nature of the disease".

"Critically, we recommend that public health officials and policymakers prioritize monitoring the counties we identify to be at high risk that have not yet reported cases, especially those that lie adjacent to counties with ongoing outbreaks and those that house large worldwide airports", said co-author Lauren Gardner, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in a statement.

Hillsborough's risk for an outbreak has been on the rise since 2016, the study says.

One of the measles outbreaks this year was in Vancouver, Washington. "There has to be a group of unvaccinated individuals, and there has to be the introduction into that area", Gardner explained. Some people are unable to receive certain vaccines: they might have failed to respond to a vaccine or might be susceptible for other reasons.

Overall vaccination rates of 90 to 95% are required in order to provide what is called "herd immunity", according to CBS News.

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In 2015, the New York Times reported on a single case of measles at Disneyland in Anaheim, which eventually led to a 147-case outbreak that not only spread across California but traveled to several other states as well.

There has also been an increase in measles cases reported across New Zealand since the start of this year. The predictions were made by calculating non-medical exemption rates in each county, passenger travel data from all worldwide airports into each of the U.S. counties, county population and size, and location of measles outbreaks globally.

There are differing opinions on the subject across health officials from various states-for example, the health minister in Hessen has come out in favor of better education as a way of encouraging vaccination, rather than forcing them on people, but the health minister in Saxony favors mandatory shots.

World Health Organization revealed today that, since the beginning of previous year, more than 90% of countries across the continent have together reported over 100,000 measles cases and over 90 related deaths. That puts their children at risk, and it puts the rest of us at risk, too. None of the patients had been vaccinated, they said.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that predicted which counties in the United States were at the greatest risk for a measles outbreak.

Of course, this study is the latest reminder that in an ideal world, most people shouldn't have to be worrying about measles and other preventable diseases at all. With the virus set to make a slow comeback in countries once hoped to be free of the disease, Australian health authorities can expect to see more outbreaks sparked by returning travellers, spreading predominantly in communities with low immunity.

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