Measles cases are on the rise, but for now Florida is in the clear.
As of press time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed 84 cases of measles across 14 states — not including Florida — since Jan. 1. The sudden increase in cases nationwide is heavily linked to an initial exposure at Disney California Adventure Park, according to the CDC.
The number of confirmed cases already tops the U.S. annual average of 60, even though the disease was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. In 2014, the CDC reported 644 cases of measles — a jump from the 188 cases in 2013.
Ann Arvin, dean of research at the Stanford School of Medicine, said the disease still remains prevalent because U.S. residents opt not to get the vaccination. But the vaccination is highly effective and has extensive availability, she said.
The outbreak is alarming to the medical community because children who contract the disease are at risk for unpredictable medical complications, no matter how healthy they may be, she said.
Dr. Robert Lawrence, an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine, said the reason for the rise in cases is that the disease is highly contagious to unvaccinated people.
“Measles is one of the most easily spread viruses — way more easily spread than Ebola,” he said. “Therefore, if individuals are being exposed, they don’t need to have a dramatically obvious exposure.”
To combat any potential cases, the Florida Department of Health is encouraging people to stay up-to-date on their immunizations. Health care providers should consider measles in any diagnosis if a patient shows suggestive symptoms, Lawerence said.
The CDC will make an official update today to accurately reflect the number of measles cases nationwide.
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 2/2/2015 under the headline “Florida remains spot-free of measles, despite national spike"]