Measles Outbreak: Your Questions Answered

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, but scattered outbreaks have occurred in recent years. This year there have been five — in New York, Texas, and Washington State — for a total of more than 120 cases. Here’s what you need to know about the disease and the risk of getting it.

Measles is an extremely contagious virus. It can cause serious respiratory symptoms, fever and rash. In some cases, especially in babies and young children, the consequences can be severe. Measles killed 110,000 people globally in 2017, mostly children under 5.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 children with measles gets an ear infection, which can lead to permanent deafness. One in 20 children with measles develops pneumonia and one in 1,000 develops encephalitis (brain swelling that can cause brain damage). Pregnant women with measles are at greater risk of having premature or low-birth-weight babies.

One or two in 1,000 children who contract measles will die. In countries where measles vaccination is not routine, it is a significant cause of death, according to the World Health Organization.

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