The measles outbreak gained a lot of territory after it first started in Disneyland, California, and a recent study suggests it might be because of the low vaccination rates.
Maimuna Majumder, main author and associate of Boston Children’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that because so many people travel to Disneyland, there are high chances people are coming from regions where they don’t get the recommended two doses of vaccination. If you add that to the fact that California itself has a lot of areas with low vaccine rates and you get the perfect conditions for a large outbreak.
Since December 2014, the U.S. has been fighting a multi-state measles outbreak which is thought to have started at Disneyland. The nation is also plagued with three unrelated epidemics in Washington, Illinois and Nevada, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The most recent report from March 6 shows that 173 people located in 17 states have reported to have contracted measles, with most cases linked to the national theme park. Measles is caused by an airborne contagious virus that starts with a fever and then followed by runny nose, pink eye and coughing. The most obvious symptom is the rash that can cover the face, neck and eventually the whole body.
If an infected person sneezes or coughs, drops containing the virus can be contagious for up to two hours; you can be infected if you touch an infected surface and then your mouth, nose or eyes.
The vaccination rate that halts the measles spreading in a community has to be as high as 96 to 99. The U.S.’s recommendations include two doses of the vaccines, because there are about 7 percent of the population who don’t receive immunity from just a single dose.
Researchers did a study based on the number and location of individuals who contracted the disease in the current outbreak and found out that some communities are estimated to have 50 percent vaccination rates. The highest percentage was 86, which is still way below the medical recommendations for achieving herd immunity.
Another factor that most likely helped the spread of the disease was the timing, as it started during the holiday season, when many people go on vacation, according to Dr. George Rutherford, from the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.
He added that the outbreak was most likely a mix of tourists coming from countries with low vaccination rates and the U.S. children who aren’t vaccinated for a wide range of reasons. In this scenario, any child contracting measles is automatically spreading it to all the children around him who are not immunized.
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