Measles Is on the Rise in Europe and I Just Visited New York
Measles is no longer a common childhood illness due to the measles vaccine, which is usually given as a combination vaccine called MMR. In the United States, we are fortunate that over 90 percent of people are vaccinated and the disease does not circulate regularly. But don’t relax just yet – germs travel.
Recently, the World Health Organization received bad news about measles in Europe. Measles incidence there declined in 2016 but recovered in 2017. More than 20,000 people were infected with the disease in Europe last year , 35 of whom died.
This is a global problem. Just last week, an Australian tourist brought the virus to New York , where they may have coughed or breathed it into the air at several hotels and tourist spots, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Check Risk Areas if you were in town from February 16th to 21st.)
Measles is extremely contagious: before vaccination, each infected person infected an average of 20 people. The virus can persist for up to two hours after an infected person has left a room, which is why New York City health officials are so concerned about where the tourist was.
To protect yourself, make sure you (and your kids!) Get the measles vaccine that prevents disease by more than 90 percent – 97 percent if you get both doses as recommended. If MMR sounds like a swear word, you can thank a fraudulent study published 20 years ago claiming a link to autism; this idea has been completely disproved .