Health officials warn of potential measles outbreak, encourage parents to get children vaccinated


(WIVB) — Health officials with the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control are warning of a potential measles outbreak after 22 million infants did not get vaccinated last year.

“[Outbreaks] will happen from time to time, and they particularly take hold in under-vaccinated populations, so this is more of a warning,” said local infectious disease expert Dr. Mark Hicar. “It seems like it was hard for parents to get in for vaccinations and the rates have slipped a little bit.”

Dr. Hicar said generally there are fewer than 100 measles cases every year in the United States, but outbreaks can happen. Because of this, he said parents should know the signs.

Measles typically initially causes cold symptoms like a runny nose and high fever and progresses to inflammation and a rash. But the most concerning things about the disease, Dr. Hicar said, is how easily it spreads.

“When the rash develops two to four days later – usually starts around the head and goes over the whole body – by the time you see the rash you think might be measles, your child is already infectious to other people. That’s one of the reasons it’s one of the most infectious diseases we know about,” he said.

While many children easily recover, Dr. Hicar said measles can cause brain inflammation and, in some cases, can be fatal. He said the best way parents can protect their children is to get them vaccinated.

“If you let the vaccine slide because of everything else going on, call your physician as soon as possible and get it scheduled,” Dr. Hicar said.

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