It was a disease that had been eradicated. At least that’s what we thought.

However, the recent outbreak of measles in Washington state has led officials to declare a state of emergency and raised concerns that this highly contagious virus will spread and infect even more people.

Not only has Washington state reported outbreaks, but other states such as California, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida, and our own state of New Jersey have also reported cases of the measles.

We live in a time where horrible diseases such as the bubonic plague, smallpox, and polio have become a thing of the past. Measles, however, is still very prevalent in countries such as Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. This disease is so contagious that up to 90% of those who come in contact with an infected person have a strong chance of becoming infected. The measles virus lives within the mucus of our nasal and throat passages and is spread through coughing and sneezing. To make it even more ominous, it can also exist on objects for up to two hours after the infected person has left the area.

In recent years, however, there has been a decline in vaccinations. More and more people are deciding not to vaccinate themselves or their loved ones based on their beliefs, or fear due to misinformation.  Some people may even believe there is no need for measles vaccines because everyone else is getting vaccinated.  Unfortunately, they are not. Many of these reported cases have been in schools, airports and other public settings which can lead to further infections. Most of those infected are children who have not been vaccinated, prompting health care experts to advocate for everyone to update their measles vaccination.

It’s not always easy to know the best choices when it comes to our personal health or the health of a loved one.  If you have questions concerning the measles vaccine, other outbreaks, or any other health issues, visit the Center for Disease Control or The World Health Organization for more information.

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