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With the increase in measles cases across the US, the Florida Department of Health in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota counties are urging Floridians and visitors who have not been immunized to get vaccinated.

Measles cases top 700, Agency heads reinforce confidence in vaccines

Although measles was thought to be eradicated in the United States in 2000, the disease has reappeared in recent months in the form of outbreaks in several states. The Centers for Disease Control and Health Protection defines a measles outbreak as three or more cases.

Measles is an acute, highly contagious viral disease. Although it is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age. Generally, preschool children, adolescents, young adults and inadequately immunized individuals comprise the majority of measles cases in the United States.

Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing and is highly contagious. The symptoms of measles generally begin approximately seven to 14 days after a person is exposed to someone with measles. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and rash. Anyone who has these symptoms should contact his or her healthcare provider. There is no specific treatment for measles.

The best way to protect yourself and your family against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is by immunization. In Florida, children should be immunized against measles with the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and should receive two doses, with the first at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second at four to six years of age.

Adults should be vaccinated with at least one dose of MMR vaccine, with a second dose recommended for those at higher risk such as international travelers and health care workers. People with underlying health conditions should discuss with their health care provider to determine the need for additional booster doses.

County health departments offer the MMR vaccine. Contact your county’s health office for a list of hours, locations, and fees associated with the vaccine.

• Citrus (352) 527-0068
• Hernando (352) 540-6800
• Hillsborough (813) 307-8077
• Manatee (941) 748-0747
• Pasco (813) 364-5812
• Pinellas (727) 824-6900
• Polk (863) 519-7910
• Sarasota (941) 861-2900