There are reports of 107 people having contracted measles from 21 states in the U.S. between Jan. 1 and July 14 this year, according to data monitored by the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). 

CDC recorded 107 cases of measles in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and the District of Columbia, meaning it is on course to become one of the worst years for the disease in the last decade.

Hundred and eighteen cases of measles were recorded in the U.S. in 2017 and 86 in 2016. However, the worst year in recent history was in 2014 when 667 cases from 27 states were reported to the CDC.

“Patients are considered contagious from four days before the rash appears to four days after the rash appears,” Rachael Lee, assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, told Health. “That’s one reason we’re so concerned about the spread of the virus, because patients are contagious prior to actually having the classic rash we’re used to seeing.”

Measles is a contagious disease caused by an airborne virus, which spreads through the infected person’s cough or sneeze. While it is rare in the United States, it is still a common disease in places like Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.

Symptoms

According to the CDC, the symptoms for measles typically show up after seven to 14 days of a person being affected. Some of the early symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose (coryza), and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).

Two or three days after the first signs of the disease is noticed, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) can be observed inside the patient’s mouth. A rash or flat red spots starts to appear on different parts of the body, starting from the face at the hairline and spreading downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet, after three to five days.

As soon as the rash shows up on one’s body, the fever spikes to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. However, within two to three weeks, the rash fades and the fever subsides.

Complications

While measles normally gets cured without any special treatment, it can cause serious health complications, especially in children younger than 5 years of age. What’s frightening is the fact that there is no way to predict the severity of the disease after a child contracts it.

One in four people in the U.S. who get measles are hospitalized. Similarly, one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death from measles in kids. On the other hand, one out of every 1,000 children infected with measles develops encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or intellectually disabled.

Some of the other complications that can arise due to measles are ear infections, resulting in permanent hearing loss and diarrhea.

Pregnant women, who are infected by measles, can give birth to a premature child or a low-birth-weight baby.

Treatment

One of the most effective ways parents can keep their children safe from measles is to get them vaccinated. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles. The first dose of the vaccine is administered at 12 through 15 months of age, while the second dose is taken at four through six years of age.

While one dose of MMR is about 93 percent effective in preventing measles, two doses are about 97 percent effective.

Most of the 107 people reported to have contracted the disease in 2018, were unvaccinated. “A lot of people unfortunately have incorrect information about the measles vaccine, because past research articles have implicated it as a cause of autism,” Lee said. “Those articles have been completely disproven, and pediatricians are 100% behind getting the MMR vaccine and other vaccines.”