Nearly two decades after measles was declared eradicated in the United States the Centers for Disease Control said there have been 159 cases of measles in 10 states as of Feb. 21, 2019.
If the infection rate remained up, it would be the highest numbers of measles cases in the United States for decades and Dr. David Davenport, Medical Director of infection prevention at Ascension Borgess Medical Center, said the single most important step towards preventing an outbreak is vaccination. He said measles so contagious that just one infected person can cause a large outbreak.
“If you don’t have a vaccine and you’re in a room with someone, you have a 90 percent chance of getting infected,” Davenport said.
As of March 1, there were four cases of measles in Michigan during 2019.
In 2018 there were 19 cases.
Michigan requires schoolchildren to receive immunizations for more than a dozen contagious diseases, including measles. It is also one of 19 states that allow immunization waivers for philosophical reasons, in addition to both religious and medical exemptions.
Records show in 2017 that 94 percent of Michigan K-12 students were fully vaccinated, but there’s a portion of the population who are medically unable to get vaccinated.
“That’s a group that we want to protect” Davenport said. “How do we protect them if they can’t get the vaccine? We get vaccinated.”
The idea is called herd immunity and Davenport said at least 95 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated for herd immunity to be fully effective.
He said measles cases often arise when an unvaccinated person picks up the disease in a foreign country and then brings it back to the United States.
Davenport said he recommends ensuring you are vaccinated and potentially taking a booster before traveling outside of the country.
He said he’s seen a rise in anti-vaccination attitudes over the last decade.
Davenport partially credits the rise of social media, but said the medical field hasn’t been great at showing people the importance of vaccination.
He said many parents are concerned about injecting anything into their child and said there is always the chance for side effects with any medical procedure, including immunization, but that the benefits far outweigh any risk.