Nyimah Jackson Staff Writer
Connecticut residents are currently fighting against a curable disease. A measles outbreak began in New York City in the Orthodox Jewish communities with a number of roughly 400 cases. Since then, the outbreak has spread to Connecticut where three cases have been confirmed, with the latest being in New Haven.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat of the infected person. It can spread to others through coughing, sneezing, kissing and touching contaminated surfaces. When exposed to measles, symptoms usually begin to appear within 10 to 12 days. Measles begins with a high fever and is accompanied by a cough, watery eyes, and white spots in the mouth. It gives the infected a red rash that starts at the baseline of the scalp and spreads across the body. When untreated, measles can result in death due to swelling in the brain or pneumonia.
As contagious as the disease is, it is also preventable thanks to a vaccine that helped eliminate the disease back in 2000, which is called the MMR vaccine. This vaccine is also used to prevent mumps and rubella. Measles is a common disease in other areas of the world, such as Asia and Africa, and when people who are infected travel to the United States, they bring the disease with them. People who have not been vaccinated are more likely to catch measles and continue spreading it around. In recent years, people have begun to shy away from vaccinating their children because they believe that vaccines cause autism. Although no scientific evidence has been found to support this myth, the number of children who have not been vaccinated continues to climb each year.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 704 cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states since Jan. 1, 2019. This is the highest rate of measles since 1994. Residents of New York City have even been warned that if they do not get vaccinated, then they will be fined $1,000. Residents of Connecticut who believe they may have Measles are urged to stay home and contact their primary care physician before going to the hospital, in an effort to avoid contaminating others.