Measles, an acute viral respiratory illness once eradicated in the United States, seems to be making a comeback.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been cases reported this year in at least 17 states, Louisiana included.

As of April, the CDC said there have been 64 cases nationwide. In 2023, the case count for the entire year was only 58.

“Measles is a pretty contagious virus, actually one of the most contagious infections that exists,” said Michael Bolton, Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge.

Little boy in a medical mask on a bright background with inscription MEASLES.

What are the symptoms of measles?

“Common symptoms are cough, you get red eyes that sometimes drain, and you get sort of a runny nose and congestion. You’ll then also get a rash that usually starts at your hairline and works its way down,” said Bolton.

How bad is it in Louisiana?

Thankfully, there have only been two reported cases in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Those two cases were reported in the Greater New Orleans area.

Both individuals were unvaccinated and exposed in another state.

LDH issues public health guidance for the state

According to LDH, it is very important for people to be vaccinated because it leads to herd immunity.

Because measles is so transmissible, it's estimated about 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to stop a measles outbreak.

Newborn baby with chickenpox, measles or rubella lying in the hands of doctor

The measles vaccine

The measles vaccination was introduced in 1963. It was so successful that the disease was later eliminated in the United States by 2000.

Why the resurgence of measles?

Quite simply put, the vaccination rates are down in our country.

“The vaccination rates are pretty low in our state and around the country and globally as well. If you’re in a room with somebody who has measles and you yourself are unvaccinated there is a really, really high chance, you’re going to get infected,” said Bolton.

Bolton theorizes that vaccination rates for children since the pandemic could have fueled this measles comeback.

Measles Mumps Rubella Vaccine Vials With Syringe Over Turquoise Background

How are vaccination rates in Louisiana?

In the state of Louisiana, right now we have about an 80% vaccination status for measles, mumps and rubella.

It is suggested that if you or your kids are unvaccinated, you should talk to your healthcare professional right away.

The vaccine is included in an MMR jab, which protects you from measles, mumps and rubella.

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