BUNNELL, Fla. - With a sharp increase in measles cases across the United States, including one documented in Florida last month, the Department of Health in Flagler County on Tuesday encouraged residents and visitors who have not been immunized to get vaccinated.
Although measles was thought to be nearly eradicated in the United States in 2000, the disease has reappeared in recent months in the form of outbreaks in several states. The Florida case was reported in March and involves a man in Broward County, a state health official said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Global Health Protection defines a measles outbreak as three or more cases.
What is the measles virus and its symptoms?
Measles is an acute, highly contagious viral disease. Although it is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age. Generally, preschool children, adolescents, young adults and inadequately immunized individuals comprise the majority of measles cases.
Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing and is highly contagious. The symptoms of measles generally begin about seven to 14 days after a person is exposed to someone with measles. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and rash. Anyone who has these symptoms should contact his or her health care provider. There is no specific treatment for measles, only prevention.
How to protect yourself
The best way to protect yourself and your family against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is by immunization, according to health officials. In Florida, children should be immunized against measles with the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and should receive two doses, with the first at 12 to 15 months and the second at 4 to 6 years old.
Children ages 18 and under can get the MMR vaccine and required childhood immunizations for free at the Health Department in Bunnell. Walk-in hours are 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Adults should be vaccinated with at least one dose of MMR vaccine, with a second dose recommended for those at higher risk, such as international travelers and health care workers. People with underlying health conditions should discuss with their health care provider to determine the need for additional booster doses.
For more information, visit floridahealth.gov/measles.
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