Measles Alert: Insights From MU Pediatric Expert on Recent U.S. Cases


Measles, a disease more contagious than the flu or COVID, is spreading in the United States, with one case reported in Missouri.

According to Amruta Padhye, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the University of Missouri, immunizations protect children from the disease, but vaccination rates are falling.

She met with reporters via Zoom call on Wednesday, following a health advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week.

So far, 58 cases have been documented, more than in the entire year of 2023. Fifty-four were linked to overseas travel, with the majority occurring in unvaccinated children aged 12 months or older.

On January 12, the Clay County Public Health Center issued a news release announcing a confirmed measles case. A Liberty resident had visited the Kansas City International Airport and North Kansas City Hospital.

Before the vaccine, measles was a primary cause of hospitalization and mortality, according to Padhye. Before 1963, measles caused 40,000 hospitalizations and 500 fatalities annually. The vaccine has decreased it by 99 percent.

Currently, around one in every five measles cases necessitates hospitalization. It can lead to ear infections, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Brain inflammation and death occur extremely seldom.

She explained that there was another problem with the condition.

“One important thing that I think should be known is that after measles infection, a person has the failure of their immune system and kind of gets what we call immune amnesia, meaning the body forgets to respond to future infections in a way that they would have previously done,” she went on to say. “They’re no longer able to fight off other infections because their immune response is blunted.”

Padhye explained that measles is highly contagious.

“Measles, by far is one of the more contagious diseases,” he remarked. “It’s more contagious than influenza or COVID-19, where nine out of 10 susceptible people who are exposed to one person with Measles can get that infection.”

Those who have not been vaccinated are vulnerable, she explained.

It can be transmitted through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes, but it can also stay in the air of a room for several hours after the sick person has departed, she explained.

Initial symptoms may include a runny nose, fever, cough, or pink eye. Around four days in, a head-to-toe rash appears and spreads from the center of the child’s body outward.

“That should be a big clue to parents to have their child evaluated, to reach out to a doctor,” he said.

When Are Babies Inoculated for Measles?

Children aged 12 to 15 months should receive their first dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, with a second dose given before they attend kindergarten.

Padhye explained that the guidance differs for children who will be traveling outside of the country. The first dose should be given between 6 and 11 months, followed by a second dose at 12 months, spaced at least four weeks apart.

“We know that vaccine hesitancy in the recent years has increased,” he stated. “During COVID, that became more evident, not with COVID vaccinations, but also with persons refusing even prior routine immunizations.”

She encourages people who are apprehensive to explore the benefits and drawbacks with their doctors.

If one person with measles is surrounded by people who have all been vaccinated, the transmission stops, she added.

The vaccination is a live attenuated vaccine, which is a modified version of the mumps, measles, and rubella virus used to train the immune system. The vaccine cannot transmit the diseases.

Padhye stated that six to 12 days after receiving the vaccine, children may develop a rash and fever.

“Being frank with families about the benefits of the vaccine, that it’s safe and the side effects to watch for, is important,” she went on to say.

The CDC states that measles is virtually avoidable by immunization. It was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000.

For more information visit our website.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.