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As measles cases grow in the U.S. and abroad, HHS reminds North Dakotans routine vaccination offers protection

As measles cases grow in the U.S. and abroad, HHS reminds North Dakotans routine vaccination offers protection

BISMARCK, N.D. - Measles cases are increasing in the U.S. and abroad. Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29, 2024, there have been 41 measles cases reported by 16 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington.

While most North Dakotans are protected from measles due to vaccination, infants under one year of age, individuals who are immune compromised and other unvaccinated individuals remain at risk.

Individuals are considered protected by having two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) or because they were born before 1957 and are immune due to previous infection. Measles is easily prevented through a two-dose MMR vaccine series, routinely given to children at 12 months and 4-6 years of age.

In North Dakota, 80.3% of 19 to 35-month-old children and over 91% of school-aged children are fully vaccinated with MMR.

Infants under 12 months of age and immune-compromised individuals cannot be vaccinated.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases. Ninety percent of people exposed who are not immune will go on to develop measles. People with measles spread the disease four days before developing the classic rash and other symptoms.

Measles can have uncomfortable symptoms and serious complications. Typical symptoms include high fever, an uncomfortable rash, severe headaches, flu-like symptoms and pink eye. Some individuals may develop pneumonia, brain swelling, or complications that destroy the immune system or impair the central nervous system or even death.

Because it is highly contagious, North Dakotans experiencing measles-like symptoms, especially those who are unvaccinated and have recently traveled, are encouraged to call their health care provider prior to going to a clinic for measles testing.

North Dakotans ages 12 months and older who have not yet been vaccinated with MMR are recommended to make an appointment with a trusted health care provider.
Many of the cases in the U.S. are linked to international travel. Travelers, including even infants ages six months through 12 months, should receive a dose of MMR early if traveling internationally.

Measles vaccines have been used for decades and are extremely safe and effective. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles.

Individuals with questions about measles vaccine are encouraged to talk with their health care provider.

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