Measles Outbreak Not Impacting Kansas

While there has been attention in the media recently related to outbreaks of measles in multiple states, authorities say there are no current outbreaks of measles in Kansas.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, there have been five outbreaks of measles in the United States reported in 2019 in the following states: New York (three outbreaks, including one in New York City and two in other counties), Washington and Texas. These outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel and Ukraine, where large measles outbreaks are occurring

“The majority of people who have developed measles in these outbreaks have not been vaccinated against measles, or have not completed the recommended measles vaccine series,” said Kansas Department of Health and Environment Acting Secretary and State Health Officer Lee A. Norman, M.D. “While measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease to the United States. Measles can spread in the United States when it reaches a community in this country where groups of people are unvaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages vaccination before traveling internationally,” said Dr. Norman.

Most people in Kansas are fully vaccinated against measles. To protect against the potential of outbreaks in the state and to protect those who are too young to be vaccinated or are unable to be vaccinated because of certain health conditions, KDHE encourages all people in Kansas to be fully vaccinated. The CDC recommends that children be vaccinated with a two-dose series of Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12 – 15 months of age and an additional dose of MMR at 4 – 6 years of age. Other children and adolescents who have no history of vaccination are recommended to receive two doses of MMR at least four weeks apart. Adults born after 1957 who have no history of vaccination are recommended to receive one dose of MMR.

“When people get vaccinated, they are protecting themselves and their community. This concept is called herd immunity. It is an important reason for you and your family to get vaccinated — so you can help keep yourselves and your community healthy. Germs can travel quickly through a community and make a lot of people sick. If enough people get sick, it can lead to an outbreak. But when enough people are vaccinated against a certain disease, there are fewer germs in the communities, and when people are exposed to them, they are much less likely to become infected — and the entire community is less likely to get the disease,” said Dr. Norman.

Through herd immunity, even people who cannot get vaccinated will have some protection from getting sick. In this situation, if a person does get sick, there is less chance of an outbreak because it is harder for the disease to spread.

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