CLEVELAND — Cases of a highly contagious disease, once thought to be eradicated, are on the rise in the United States. Health experts warn that some adults, already vaccinated against measles may still be at risk of contracting it.
“Pretty much everybody born before 1956 was exposed to the measles virus and therefore they have immunity. Those people generally do not need to worry about being vaccinated again,” said Dr. Roy Buchinsky, Director of Wellness for University Hospitals, based at the Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood.
However, Dr. Buchinsky said anyone born in the late 1950s through the 1960s might need another measles vaccination, even if they received one as a child.
“That vaccine was not as effective as the current MMR vaccine. As a result, people may have been vaccinated, but they may not have immunity,” he said.
So far in 2019, there have been 159 reported cases of measles in the United States. There were 372 cases in all of last year.
Measles cases have been reported in ten states this year, with outbreaks of three or more cases in New York, Illinois, Texas and Washington state.
“It can be anything from a fever to a rash, to joint pain to…it can affect your neurological system and cause some sort of encephalitis. Measles is just not an inconvenience of having a rash; it really can cause serious problems,” said the doctor.
Health experts said cases of measles are on the rise as people contract the disease outside of the country and spread it in the United States. Centers for Disease Control officials recommend getting vaccinated or checked before travelling overseas.
“But my recommendation is if you are going to an area or a county or city where you know that there’s an increase incidence of measles, it’s not a bad thing to get your blood checked for the antibodies to measles so that you know that you have immunity,” said Dr. Buchinsky.
He urges all parents to have their children vaccinated.
“You can see that if we carry on with this trend, that the incidence of measles is going to continue to grow,” said Buchinsky.