Urgent alert: First confirmed Measles case in Georgia since 2020- vaccination urgency escalates!

Rashes caused by Measles | Credits: Getty Images
Rashes caused by Measles | Credits: Getty Images

United States: A confirmed case of measles has been reported by Georgia health officials- the first reported incidence of the virus since 2020.

As per the officials, the reported individual was exposed to the virus while traveling outside the country, and the infected person was unvaccinated as well.

Although officials have not shared any identifying information associated with the case, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is focussing on finding out anyone who may have been in contact with them while they were infectious, Fox5 Atlanta News reported.

About the Measles infection

The measles virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through coughs or sneezes. Measles can persist in the air or on surfaces for around two hours after an infected person leaves a room.

Symptoms usually develop seven to fourteen days after exposure to the measles virus, and it include fever, coughs, runny noses, and watery eyes.

Finally, one develops a red rash on the head, and then it spreads to other parts of the body.

About vaccination program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposes a dose of the MMR vaccination for all children in Georgia to protect them from infection at ages 12–15 months and another dose between ages 4-6.

Vaccine for Measles | Credits: Reuters

The agency suggests to the family and close members of the infected persons to avoid visiting public places and contact the doctors immediately.

Measles status in the US

According to the CDC, in 1963, the first measles vaccine was licensed. After the successful vaccination drive, the United States was declared measles-free in 2000. It means there was no continuous measles case spread for one year straight within the country.

Although the US is still considered measles-free, cases arise now when people travel from outside of the country where measles is still prevalent.

The current case of measles involved a person who was exposed to the virus while traveling out of the country, according to the Georgia DPH.

In 2023, as per the CDC data, 48 measles cases were reported countrywide. The numbers went down from 122 recorded in 2022.

However, an outbreak was reported, infecting 1200 people five years ago and threatening the disease-eliminated status of the US.

As per a CDC report, the number of exemption cases from vaccination among students of new kindergarten rose from .4 percent to 3 percent, the highest exemption cases ever recorded in the country.

Georgia’s exemption in new kindergarten students fell by .9 percent from the previous year’s, which has reached 3.4 percent, which is still higher than the national average, as per Georgia Recorder.

Dr. Harry Heiman, a public health professor at Georgia State University, said, “The more critical number is the percentage who are vaccinated and, therefore, protected.”

He added further, “For Georgia, during the 2022-2023 school year, this number was 88%. Unfortunately, that means there are many students who are unprotected and at risk for contracting measles. I would hope that this case serves as a wake-up call for schools, health care providers, and our public health agencies to focus additional resources on ensuring that systems are in place to make sure that all Georgia’s children are up to date on these critical vaccines.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC report, measles cases rose on a global scale, which in 2022 increased by 18 percent to 9 million and deaths up by 43 percent to 136,000, mostly among children, Georgia Recorder reported. John Vertefeuille, director of CDC’s Global Immunization Division, issued a statement stating, “Measles cases anywhere pose a risk to all countries and communities where people are under-vaccinated,” and mentioned further, “Urgent, targeted efforts are critical to prevent measles disease and deaths.”

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