Florida is among the 21 states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring after more than a hundred cases of measles this year have been reported across the U.S.
Since Jan. 1, 107 people were reported to have measles, and according to the CDC a majority of those cases occured because the person was unvaccinated.
The Department of Health in Pinellas County said Monday it's investigating a case of measles in a child it says was not vaccinated. Officials said they are working to identify and notify others who may have been exposed. It's unclear how the child contracted the virus.
The Florida Department of Health investigated three cases of confirmed measles in July. Health officials said the cases were in two unvaccinated Florida residents and one visitor who may have been exposed during international travel in Brazil and France.
There have been seven confirmed cases of measles in Florida this year in visitors and residents, according to the Department of Health.
Measles is a virus that is easily spread by air droplets when infected persons breathe, cough, or sneeze. The first symptoms are a high fever that may spike to 105F, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Symptoms are followed by a blotchy rash that spreads from the head to the feet.
Measles was considered eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but can still be spread due to unvaccinated communities and travelers who bring the disease into the country.
The CDC started seeing an increase in 2008 of measles cases in groups of unvaccinated people.
The greatest outbreak since measles elimination happened in 2014, during which 667 cases from 27 states were reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
Measles can be very serious in young children and adults older than 20. One or two of every 1,000 children who contracts the disease will die from it.
Measles patients can experience permanent hearing loss, pneumonia and swelling of the brain. One out of four patients needs to be hospitalized.
Officials urged parents to vaccinate their children with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine as the only way to protect against the virus.
The CDC issued a Level 1 Travel Alert this summer for several countries with measles outbreaks, including Greece, England, Serbia, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Italy, Ukraine, the Philippines, Romania and France.
Anyone traveling to countries with reported measles outbreaks should make sure they are vaccinated first, according to the CDC.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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