Health Department says no measles cases in Wyoming, but vaccinations remain important


Health Department says no measles cases in Wyoming, but vaccinations remain important, As measles cases spike across the United States, there has yet to be a reported case in Wyoming since 2010. Still, health officials here are using the recent resurgence to

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As measles cases spike across the United States, there has yet to be a reported case in Wyoming since 2010. Still, health officials here are using the recent resurgence to remind residents that vaccinations are important.

'Measles should be taken seriously because it can sometimes lead to pneumonia, swelling of the brain known as encephalitis and death,' Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state health officer and epidemiologist, said in a press release Tuesday.

Nationwide, there have been more than 700 reported cases across 22 states in the U.S. this year — more than any year up to this point since 1994 and the most since the infectious disease was eradicated in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In past years, outbreaks have occurred when travelers bring the disease to communities where people are unvaccinated.

To best combat measles, experts recommend the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, which children should get in two doses: one between 12 and 15 months of age, and the other between ages 4 and 6.

Right now, the state Department of Health says there's no need for Wyoming residents to receive extra doses or boosters. But the department is reminding Wyomingites that the disease can spread to those who haven't been vaccinated.

'We are concerned about the growth in measles cases across the country, but believe no new or extra actions are needed in Wyoming at this point. We want people to follow the vaccination recommendations that are already in place,' Harrist said. '... Measles is extremely contagious and easily spreads to others through coughing and sneezing. It is important to be up to date on vaccinations because anyone who is not protected against measles, including children too young to be vaccinated, could become infected with a serious disease.'

Those traveling out of the country who don't have evidence of immunity to measles should receive doses, the department says.

According to NPR, the current spate of measles is largely linked to international travel and unvaccinated populations here. But should the outbreaks continue, the disease's spread will eventually be traced back to the United States itself.

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Most of Wyoming's neighbors have not had a measles case this year. Only Colorado has had a report in 2019, according to the CDC.

Roughly three-quarters of this year's illnesses in the U.S. have been in New York state, mainly in two ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and suburban Rockland County. Most of those cases have been in unvaccinated people.

The number of cases is likely to go even higher. Measles is highly contagious and can spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. And in recent days, Jewish families have been gathering for Passover meals. It can take 10-12 days for symptoms to develop.

The vaccine, which became available in the 1960s, is considered safe and highly effective, and because of it, measles was declared all but eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. But it has made comebacks since then, including 667 cases in 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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