MEASLES, Florida

First COVID, Now Measles: Florida Outbreak Spreading Rapidly

There are currently seven known cases of measles in Florida—and the number is likely to grow.

The measles outbreak in Florida is spreading rapidly. On Feb. 23, Broward County health officials confirmed a seventh case of the virus in a child under the age of 5.

Since the child is the youngest ever to be infected during the outbreak, parents have been advised to be more careful. The anonymous child is the first to be infected outside of students at the Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, near Fort Lauderdale, according to NBC News.

Co-director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. David Kimberlin, said to expect more cases because they are “not going to stay contained just to that one school, not when a virus is this infectious.”

The measles outbreak isn’t just contained to Florida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of Feb. 23, there have been at least 35 measles cases in 15 different states in 2024. It hypothesized that most of the cases are a product of international travel. However, Florida’s outbreak is the most pervasive in the country.

Kimberlin described measles as being so contagious that it’s difficult to quarantine those infected. “Measles is the most infectious pathogen in humans that we know of. It’s like a heat-seeking missile. It will find the people who are not immune, and they’re going to get sick.”

Unvaccinated people have a 90% chance of becoming infected if they’re exposed.

Katelyn Jetelina, who tracks illnesses for the website “Your Local Epidemiologist,” said, “Epidemiology 101 is to identify and isolate.” This is especially difficult for measles since people who are infected can spread it to others for up to three weeks.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida’s surgeon general, sent letter to parents at Manatee Bay Elementary School, informing them that, “Due to the high-immunity rate in the community, as well as the burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school, DOH is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.” 

The letter included several symptoms of measles to watch out for during the outbreak, including, “high fever, rash, red, [and] watery eyes.”

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