South GA health officials react to latest CDC numbers on measles - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South GA health officials react to latest CDC numbers on measles

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January Smith January Smith
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VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

Health officials in Valdosta are reminding people about the importance of getting the measles vaccines, as the number of cases of measles in the U.S. are at the highest level in over a decade.

On Thursday, the CDC reported 288 cases of measles in 18 states so far in 2014, though none of them have occurred in Georgia.

That is the highest number of cases in one year since the disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.

January Smith, district epidemiologist for the Georgia Department of Public Health South Health District in Valdosta, encourages people to get vaccinated if they're not already.

"Of late, there has been an increase in people opting not to immunize their children for philosophical or religious reasons," Smith pointed out. "Because there is an increase in unimmunized, susceptible individuals, that's why we're seeing more cases."

Smith added that many of the cases arise from people coming to the United States after having lived in or traveled to countries where measles has not been eliminated. But, she said as long as a person receives the two measles vaccines, which most people receive when they are very young, it's unlikely they'll contract measles.

"As long as you've had the two vaccines, the two MMRs, which we usually get between 12 and 15 months and four to six years, [you're] not likely to become symptomatic," said Smith.

To see the full release from the CDC, visit http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html.

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