Health & Fitness

A child in central Florida just contracted the measles virus. Here’s what you need to know.

Measles shot
Measles shot

A bit of scary news for parents, some of whom sent their kids back to school on Wednesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 107 people from 21 states have contracted the measles from Jan. 1 to July 14, 2018. Last year saw 118 cases — in a 12-month period.

Florida is one of those 21 states. There is one known case, a child, in Pinellas County, in central Florida.

The majority of the individuals who were infected were unvaccinated, said the CDC, which urges everyone to get inoculated as soon as possible.

Measles is a highly contagious, acute respiratory illness spread by air droplets.

The first symptoms are flu-like, followed by a red, itchy rash all over the body.

The live measles vaccine was developed in 1963; in 2000, the disease was declared eliminated from the United States. But it’s still common in various parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, says the CDC, which adds that travelers continue to bring the illness here.

Health officials urge unvaccinated people to contact their healthcare providers about where to get a shot. Measles can be prevented with the MMR vaccine, which also protects against mumps and rubella.

CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years old.

The World Health Organization reports that “each year immunization prevents 2 to 3 million deaths, and additional illnesses and disabilities from 26 diseases.”