Measles, a highly contagious virus, is making a comeback. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 102 cases of the measles in 14 states were diagnosed in January. The majority of these cases have been linked to a measles outbreak at an amusement park in California. Could it be coming closer to home?

Although measles were eliminated in the United States in 2000, the CDC said that in 2014 the United States experienced the greatest number of measles cases since being declared eliminated, with 644 cases in 27 states. Most of these cases were in people who were not vaccinated.

“Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of measles,” said Carol Bowes-Lawlor, D.O., family medicine, Chestnut Hill Hospital. “CDC research shows that one dose of the measles vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if someone is exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97 percent effective.”

Measles is still common in other countries and travelers with measles continue to bring the virus in the United States. An outbreak can occur when the disease reaches a community where groups of people are unvaccinated. To prevent the spread of measles, the CDC recommends that every child receive a first dose of the measles vaccination (MMR) after reaching the age of 12 months. A second dose is recommended for 4- to 6- year-olds. Vaccination is also recommended for adults who do not have evidence of immunity to the measles.

On Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m., Bowes-Lawler will lead a discussion on vaccines at Ambler Medicine, Chestnut Hill Family Care Associates, 500 Willow Ave., in Ambler.

She will review the significance of vaccinations and help you learn if you’re protected. Do you need a booster? Could measles ever re-establish itself in the United States? Get answers to these questions and review other vaccine-preventable diseases that can cause long-term illness, hospitalization and even death. Learn how you take steps to protect yourself and your family. Get answers to your questions. Enjoy light refreshments. The event is free, but registration is required. Call 215-646-6743.

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