Category: Measles

Cruise ship quarantined over measles reportedly owned by the Church of Scientology

ST. LUCIA – Health officials in St. Lucia have ordered a cruise ship reportedly owned by the Church of Scientology to stay in port after they learned through “reputable sources” someone on board has the measles.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James said after internal discussions and talks with the Pan American Health Organization “we thought it prudent that we quarantine the ship.”

She said one person with measles could easily infect others through coughing and sneezing. She said they learned of the measles case through two reputable sources.

The vessel, named “Freewinds,” is still moored there, St. Lucia Coast Guard Sgt. Victor Theodore told NBC News.

The St. Lucia Times posted an image of the ship Wednesday and several marine tracking websites show the ship in Port Castries on the Caribbean island.

The Church of Scientology didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment. It says on its website the ship is a religious retreat at the pinnacle of a Scientologist’s spiritual journey.

Fredericks-James said no one was allowed to disembark from the ship.

Using quarantines to assist in controlling an outbreak, while uncomfortable, is an important public health option, Rebecca Katz, who directs the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, told CNN last week.

“Quarantine is a word that people respond to very strongly, but it’s actually one of the strongest tools in the public health tool kit,” Katz said. “But because it curtails civil liberties, most public health officials are very wary to utilize it.”

Every state has laws in place that allow quarantines and other public health enforcement tools, and they differ based on the jurisdiction. For anyone who refuses to cooperate, actions can range from issuing a self-isolation order to “checking in once a day via the internet, to putting a tracking device on somebody, to placing an armed guard outside of their home,” Katz said.

“Sometimes people feel like they’re being treated like a criminal,” Katz added. “The point is to be treated like you’re doing something that is contributing to your society and only be treated like a criminal if you disobey.”

Fredericks-James said health officials were using authority given to them by the nation’s quarantine act and public health act.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or if someone comes into direct contact or shares germs by touching the same objects or surfaces. Symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash of red spots.

Measles cases in the United States have surpassed the highest number on record  since the disease was declared eliminated nationwide in 2000.

‘Marcia Brady’ Actress Calls Out Anti-Vaxxers on Measles

Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady on The Brady Bunch, thinks people should get their information on measles from medical professionals in 2019, not sitcom episodes from 50 years earlier.

McCormick isn’t happy about anti-vaxxers pointing to a 1969 episode in which the whole Brady family comes down with measles as evidence that the disease is harmless. The kids stay home from school with mild symptoms and Marcia quips: “If you have to get sick, sure can’t beat the measles.”

McCormick tells NPR that she had measles as a child and it was nothing like the episode. “Having the measles was not a fun thing,” she says. “I remember it spread through my family.”

“As a mother, my daughter was vaccinated,” says McCormick.

Lloyd Schwartz, son of late Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz, says: “Dad would be sorry, because he believed in vaccination, had all of his kids vaccinated.”

In the year the episode came out, six years after the vaccine was developed, there were at least 25,000 measles cases nationwide. Most people fully recovered, but there were 41 deaths and others suffered complications including deafness.

Before the vaccine, there were around 500 measles deaths a year. University of California medical history expert Elena Conis tells NPR that the episode is from a very different time.

“In 1969, we had less control over infectious diseases,” she says. “Smallpox was still a reality. There were far more cases of polio. In that context, it made sense to think of measles as a lesser threat.” (Read more measles stories.)

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Local Pediatrician Discusses the Measles Vaccine and Best Time to Vaccinate

WAUKEE, Iowa — There are now 626 confirmed cases of the measles in 22 states, that includes two in Iowa.

The vaccine against measles is effective and some health experts says some babies should consider getting it as soon as they are six months old.

The standard vaccination time frame is when a child is 12 to 15-months-old for the first shot and then a second shot when they are 4 to 6-years-old.

A UnityPoint pediatrician and vaccine expert, Dr. Stephen Rinderknecht, said the two dose series is to catch those who maybe didn’t respond to the first dose.

He said it isn’t always necessary for infants to get the vaccine at six months, but he recommends babies receive it before international travel.

“We don’t give it standard at that age because it doesn’t work very well at 6 to 11 months of age. So you would still need to get revaccinated after your first birthday even if you get an earlier shot,” Dr. Rinderknecht said.

Dr. Rinderknecht said it’s important to consult your own doctor or pediatrician on vaccinating and when it is best for your child.

U.S. measles outbreak is largest since disease was declared eliminated in 2000

Measles cases in the United States have surpassed the highest number on record since the disease was declared eliminated nationwide in 2000.

Overall, there have been 681 measles cases across 22 states this year, according to CNN’s analysis of data from state and local health departments.

The states reporting measles cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

As of Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 626 individual cases of measles confirmed in those 22 states. This includes illnesses reported by state health departments to the CDC through April 19 and therefore does not include cases reported since then.

The agency updates the number of measles cases each Monday.

Previously, the highest number of reported cases since elimination was 667 in 2014.

‘Most of the cases that we’re seeing are in unvaccinated communities’

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or if someone comes into direct contact or shares germs by touching the same objects or surfaces. Measles symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash of red spots.

Most cases in the United States have emerged in communities with low rates of vaccination against the virus, according to public health officials.

“I do believe that parents’ concerns about vaccines leads to undervaccination, and most of the cases that we’re seeing are in unvaccinated communities,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in February at a congressional hearing about measles outbreaks.

Nationally, the United States has high measles vaccination coverage. The CDC says 91.5% of US children aged 19 months to 35 months received at least one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in 2017, the most recent year available.

“However, there are pockets of people who are vaccine-hesitant,” Messonnier said.

“Outbreaks of measles occur when measles gets into these communities of unvaccinated people,” she said. “The only way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated.”

A source familiar with the measles situation in the United States previously told CNN that of the 626 cases of measles that federal officials counted as of last week, 72% are unvaccinated, and 18% have an unknown vaccination status. Among those who are unvaccinated, it may be because of personal beliefs and medical reasons. The other 10% were vaccinated with either one or two doses.

Of those 626 cases, 487 were in people 19 and younger.

Measles outbreaks — defined as three or more cases — have been ongoing this year in Rockland County, New York; New York City; Washington state; Santa Cruz County, California; New Jersey; Butte County, California; and Michigan.

The CDC has noted that those outbreaks are linked to travelers who were infected and brought measles back from other countries, including Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines.

For instance, the outbreak in New York, which was declared a public health emergency this month, began when an unvaccinated child became infected while visiting Israel, according to health officials.

A person from New York who was unknowingly contagious with the measles then visited Southeast Michigan, spreading the illness to at least 38 people there, according to Lynn Sutfin, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The history of measles in America

In 1912, measles became a nationally notifiable disease in the United States, meaning it was required that health care providers and laboratories report diagnosed cases. In that first decade of reporting, an average of about 6,000 measles-related deaths were reported annually.

In the 1950s, researchers isolated the measles virus in a patient’s blood, and in the 1960s, they were able to transform that virus into a vaccine. The vaccine was licensed and then used as part of a vaccination program.

Before the measles vaccination program was introduced in the United States in 1963, an estimated 3 million to 4 million people got the disease each year nationwide, according to the CDC. Afterward, cases and deaths from measles in the United States and other developed countries plummeted. There were 963 cases reported in the United States in 1994 and 508 in 1996.

By 2000, when there were only 86 cases, measles was declared eliminated from the United States, meaning there was no continuous transmission of the disease for more than 12 months.

Since 2000, the annual number of reported measles cases has ranged from 37 people in 2004 to 667 in 2014.

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine – known as the MMR vaccine – is very effective. One dose is about 93% effective at preventing measles if you come into contact with the virus. Two doses are about 97% effective.

Experts recommend that children receive the vaccine in two doses: first between 12 months and 15 months of age and a second between 4 and 6 years old.

With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of reactions, according to the CDC. These are usually mild and go away on their own, but there is a “remote chance” of side effects and even serious injuries.

Experts say the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to the measles vaccine.

IDPH Reports Second Case of Measles in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Public Health says a second case of measles has been confirmed in northeast Iowa.

The infected person is a “household contact” of the first person the IDPH released information about Monday. That individual was unvaccinated and had recently returned from Israel, where measles transmission is occurring.

The IDPH says the second infection was identified during the investigation into the first case of measles and the person has taken part in voluntarily confinement order at home. That person was also unvaccinated.

According to the IDPH, because the person was isolated at home during the incubation period for the illness, there is not a threat to the general public.

Prior to these latest infections, no cases of measles had been reported in Iowa since 2011.