The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has renewed a call to vaccinate children following federal officials’ declaration Monday that the current measles outbreak is the worst in decades.
The Atlanta-based CDC reports that as of Friday, children younger than 5 have accounted for about half of the 704 cases recorded involving individuals who had not been vaccinated.
Officials in New York City have closed some schools over failure to comply with an order to exclude unvaccinated children, while hundreds of students and staff members at two California universities have remained under quarantine following possible exposure to the virus.
“The outbreaks in New York City and New York State are the largest and longest-lasting since measles elimination in 2000,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC director for immunization, said at a press conference. “The longer this continues, the greater the chances that measles will again get a foothold in the United States.”
The CDC also reported on Monday that this year’s outbreak was sparked by 126 infections acquired by travelers overseas since early 2018.
Measles lists among the most contagious of diseases. Virus-laced droplets can hover in still indoor air for up to two hours after someone infected has coughed or sneezed. Up to 90 percent of people who are exposed will catch the virus if they are not immunized.