Philadelphia Measles Outbreak Has Officials Concerned

Philadelphia Measles Outbreak Has Officials Concerned
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Key Takeaways

  • Philadelphia is experiencing an outbreak of measles that so far has included eight cases

  • All of people stricken by the highly contagious virus were unvaccinated

  • Measles can prove very serious, and three of the eight cases required hospital care

TUESDAY, Jan. 9, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Eight Philadelphia residents are known to have contracted measles, the city's department of health said in an update on the outbreak released Monday.

Measles is highly infectious, and Philadelphia health care staff are "working to identify everyone who may have been exposed, checking their vaccine status, warning them that they may have been exposed, and issuing quarantine and exclusion recommendations where necessary," the city said in the update.

Measles vaccines provide excellent protection against the virus, but growing anti-vaxxer sentiments in recent years mean immunization rates have waned.

Philadelphia has a measles vaccination rate of 93% among its kids, but one city health official told ABC News that all of the eight cases have occurred among unvaccinated individuals. 

Check the Philadelphia Department of Health update for more details on whether you might be at particular risk.

The outbreak began in early December, when an unvaccinated child with measles was admitted to hospital and spread the illness to three other children while there, ABC News reported. At least three of the eight cases have resulted in hospitalization.

Measles is so contagious that if you are unvaccinated, you have a 90% chance of contracting the illness if you are in contact with an infected person, the Philadelphia health department said. 

The illness begins with a high fever, runny nose, cough and red, watery eyes or pink eye. Later, the characteristic measles rash emerges, often accompanied by an even higher fever. One in every five cases of measles is so serious it requires hospitalization.

The disease can prove fatal. According to the Philadelphia experts, "Nearly 1 to 3 of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications" such as encephalitis or pneumonia.

You're probably immune to measles, however, if you were born before 1957, have had measles in the past, or have completed the two-dose vaccine (usually given as part of the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR vaccine) and are not otherwise immunocompromised.

More information

Find out more about measles at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Philadelphia Department of Health, update, Jan. 8, 2024, and ABC News, Jan. 8, 2024

What This Means For You

Philadelphians need to be aware of a measles outbreak, and get themselves and their kids vaccinated if they haven't already done so.

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