For the first time since 1997, someone in Maine has caught the measles, according to the state's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The department tweeted out a news release Tuesday saying that the person who got the disease was infected while traveling overseas. At this time, no other details have been released, except for a list of locations in the state that the infected person had traveled to, as well as dates and times.
Maine's CDC urges anyone who was also at those places to make sure they're up-to-date on measles vaccinations, and to check in with a doctor if they aren't.
Measles is a "highly contagious viral disease characterized by fever, rash, cough, runny nose, and red eyes," the CDC news release says. The disease can "cause severe health complications including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death."
It's also easily transmitted when a contagious person coughs or sneezes. The CDC reminds the public that "the best protection against measles is vaccination."
In fact, the disease was nearly eradicated after vaccines became popular in 1963, according to the national CDC website. Since kids in the US started getting the measles vaccine, the number of people who get the disease each year has gone down by 99%. When someone does get the measles, it's often an unvaccinated person who contracted it while traveling, as did the person in Maine, according to the CDC.
Yet, in recent years many parents have opted to not vaccinated their kids over concerns that vaccines cause other health problems, such as autism (which just isn't true). This refusal to have kids vaccinated puts them at risk when someone brings back an easily preventable disease such as measles. And, in fact, some states are fighting their largest measles outbreaks in decades. Minnesota has had 58 cases since April — many of them in unvaccinated children.
It's for this reason that the CDC in Maine is urging parents to make sure their kids have been vaccinated. They said in the release that "every effort should be made to identify and vaccinate children who are not up-to-date."
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