6th child from same Florida school gets measles in outbreak that started Friday

Six children from the same Florida elementary school have contracted measles in an outbreak that began last week.

The first child to come down with symptoms was a 3rd grader on Friday, who had not traveled recently, followed by three other students who had confirmed cases over the weekend. The 5th and 6th cases showed up yesterday and today. The infected children are all students at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, about 20 miles west of Ft. Lauderdale.

"It is very likely that this outbreak is among unvaccinated students, given that nearly 90% of measles cases in past outbreaks were among those not vaccinated," said epidemiologist and ABC News contributor Dr. John Brownstein, although whether or not these students were vaccinated has not been confirmed. "This pattern aligns with historical data showing that measles primarily spreads among unvaccinated populations."

From ABC News:

"Over the weekend, the District took further preventive measures by conducting a deep cleaning of the school premises and replacing its air filters," the [Broward County Public Schools] statement continued. …

Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, meaning the disease "is no longer constantly present in this country." The dip in routine childhood vaccinations in recent years — as well as travelers bringing measles into the country — has resulted in outbreaks. …

The first measles vaccine, a single-dose vaccine, was introduced in the U.S. in 1963. In the prior decade, there were 3 to 4 million cases annually, which led to 48,000 hospitalizations and 400 to 500 deaths.

The overwhelming majority of cases in outbreaks are typically the unvaccinated. Nearly 90% of the 1,249 measles cases in 2019, which was the greatest number of cases reported since 1992, were people who were unvaccinated.

And from NBC News:

Measles is highly contagious. Symptoms typically begin to appear a week or two after infection, and can include a cough, runny nose, fever and red, watery eyes. Small, white spots may appear inside the mouth a couple days later, followed by a rash consisting of flat, red spots that start on the face and spread to the neck, torso and limbs.

One in 5 unvaccinated people in the U.S. who get measles are hospitalized with severe complications. As many as 1 in 20 children with measles develop pneumonia, the leading cause of death for those in the age group who get the disease. People who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised also face a risk of swelling in the brain or death.

As of Thursday, 20 measles cases had been reported across 11 states already this year, including an outbreak of at least eight cases in Philadelphia last month, according to the CDC. Last month, the agency issued a warning to health providers to be on the lookout for more cases. Last year, 58 cases were reported in total.

"My suspicion is that there is unfortunately some questioning of utility or the acceptance of vaccines," Mitchell said Tuesday afternoon. "I think going forward, I would not be surprised if we begin to see the recurrence of these cases. I mean, the fact that you have five cases of measles at this one elementary school suggests to me that the rate of vaccination may have fallen off." …

"I suspect that some people have lost their fear," Mitchell added. "I don't think they remember what it was like back in the '60s or '70s."