(NEWSnet) – The number of measles cases in the United States has increased so much in recent weeks that the Centers for Disease Control has issued an Official Health Advisory over the situation.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that the CDC says “is almost entirely preventable through vaccination.” The agency cited data showing that one dose of what is currently a two-dose schedule is considered 93% effective, and the second dose boosts the immunity to 97% effective.

But vaccination rates overall among incoming kindergarten students has been declining. Several cases were reported in February at a Florida elementary school. And a recent cluster under investigation in the Chicago area is happening among unvaccinated migrants who are staying in an emergency shelter.

The CDC reports between Jan. 1 and March 14, there have been 58 cases of measles confirmed in the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. The measles database is updated once a week.

To put that number in perspective, there were only 58 measles cases reported in the U.S. all during 2023 and 121 during all of 2022.

The CD health advisory urges health providers, schools and early childhood education providers to help encourage families to stay current with the vaccination schedule. Children normally get their first dose of the MMR vaccine at age 12 to 15 months; the second dose between age 4 and 6.

Local health departments also are urged to help keep the CDC database current by immediately notifying cases and outbreaks to their state health officials.

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