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Florida measles cases rise as experts oppose state surgeon general’s decisions

By 37ci3 Feb24,2024

The Florida measles outbreak is expanding. Health officials on Friday Broward County confirmed the seventh case of the virus, a child under the age of 5.

The patient is the youngest ever infected with the outbreak and the first to be identified outside of Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, near Fort Lauderdale.

It is not known what connection the youngest measles case had to the school, but it was expected to spread beyond school-age children.

Co-director of the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. “Not when a virus is that contagious, it’s not going to be confined to just one school,” David Kimberlin said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported at least as of Friday 35 measles cases in 15 states In 2024 — mostly related to international travel. Nine measles cases were reported in Pennsylvania in January, eight of them in Philadelphia. (If no more cases are reported there by early next week, The Philadelphia Epidemic will be declared finished.) Late on Friday, Michiganetc. health department He announced that he had measles for the first time since 2019.

The Florida outbreak is currently the largest in the United States. What Florida health officials did — or didn’t do — is under fire from experts who study how diseases spread.

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Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo at a news conference on Aug. 3, 2022, in Rockledge, Fla.Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / Sipa USA via AP file

Measles is highly contagious and there is such a long incubation period that the chief surgeon of the state, Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s decision for parents to quarantine their children or continue attending school could allow cases to spread, experts warn.

“Measles is the most infectious pathogen we know of in humans,” Kimberlin said. “It’s like a heat-seeking missile. It’s going to find people who don’t have immunity and they’re going to get sick.”

Unvaccinated people have a 90% chance of becoming infected.

Katelyn Jetelina, who tracks diseases for the website Epidemiology 101 Identify and Isolate, said.Your Local Epidemiologist.” That’s especially true for measles outbreaks, he said, because the virus is incredibly contagious and infected people can spread it for up to three weeks.

In a letter sent to parents in elementary school on Tuesday, Ladapo wrote, “Due to the high level of immunity in the community, as well as the burden on families and the cost of education for healthy children who do not attend school, DOH defers to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.”

The letter says parents should watch for the signs of measles — high fever, rash, redness, sunken eyes — but discourages vaccination.

How Ohio quickly brought measles under control

Columbus, Ohio, Health Commissioner Dr. When Mysheika Roberts faced a growing measles outbreak in 2022, parents across the state also received a letter with a very different message.

Eighty-five children, mostly unvaccinated infants, were infected measles in central Ohio. About half of them, 42%, had to be hospitalized.

When the Ohio outbreak began, Roberts recommended that unvaccinated children exposed to measles receive a dose. mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine as a form of “post-exposure prophylaxis,” he said.

The 21-day quarantine period for shot children was reduced to just 72 hours.

Infectious disease specialists told Roberts it could take six months or more to get it under control. He and his team did it in three.

“By February, we were able to declare the outbreak over,” Roberts said.

Roberts attributes this success to sticking to standard public health guidance: identify and isolate patients — and tell the public what to do.

“We knew very clearly what we needed to do to control this outbreak,” Roberts said.

Ohio leadership includes:

  • Promoting the MMR vaccine, which provides 97% protection against infection.
  • Keeping unvaccinated children exposed to the virus out of school, daycare and other activities for 21 days.

A letter from Columbus public health officials strongly suggested that families comply with the proposed quarantine.

“We didn’t leave it up to the parents,” Roberts said. “It wasn’t an order, but because we wrote the letter, people probably felt they didn’t have a choice.”

Since 2022, Ohio has reported only one measles case in 2023 at least one so far In 2024.

According to information, 1 out of every 5 measles patients is hospitalized XNM. And 1-3 out of 1000 patients will die.

Dozens of elementary school students in Florida are vulnerable, and some may have siblings too young to be fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, Florida vaccine exemptions have been on the rise in recent years CDC data.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Peter Licata said during Wednesday’s school board meeting that 33 of Manatee Bay Elementary’s 1,067 students had not been vaccinated.

said Maria Caballero, whose daughter attends Manatee Bay NBC News said earlier this week that the girl has been kept out of school for now. She has twin boys who were born prematurely and are not old enough for the first dose of the MMR vaccine, which is given starting at age 1.

“Even though my 10-year-old is fully vaccinated, I am worried that he will bring the virus home,” Caballero said.

The Florida outbreak comes at a time when the national toll is on the rise vaccine exemptions hit an all-time high. A November report from the CDC found that 3% of children entering kindergarten during the 2022-2023 school year were exempt from vaccinations from their state. This is the highest release rate ever reported in the United States

“More and more people are asking about vaccines and why people need vaccines,” said Kimberlin, MD, of the University of Alabama. “They will soon find out.”

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