Two more children in South Florida have been diagnosed with measles as the outbreak in the state continues to grow.
The Florida Department of Health announced Sunday that two children were infected with the disease in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale and is just north of Miami.
Authorities said one child was between five and nine years old and the other was younger than five. It is not clear if they were vaccinated.
This brings the county’s total cases to eight, six of which were students at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston.
It is unclear if the two most recent cases are related to the school.
The rise in measles cases comes as Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo has been accused of fueling the spread of the virus by defying Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
Vaccination rates in children entering kindergarten in Broward County compared to the rest of Florida, where measles is increasing
Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo (pictured) told parents they could decide whether to quarantine their children or let them continue attending school. This plan has come under increased scrutiny.
Instead, Dr. Ladapo wrote last week in a letter to parents that he could leave the decision to keep children at home up to parents, which has drawn criticism from doctors for putting vulnerable children at risk.
Dr. Ladapo’s letter to parents acknowledged that the “normal” recommendation is for unvaccinated children to stay home for 21 days.
However, he stated, “The DOH leaves it up to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.”
Ben Hoffman, president of the AAP, responded to Dr. Ladapo’s advice to parents about measles: “It goes against everything I’ve heard and everything I’ve read.”
‘This is against our policy. It goes against what [CDC] would recommend.’
Broward County Superintendent Peter Licata told Local News 10 last week that Manatee Bay Elementary School, where six of the eight sick children attend, has a 92 percent vaccination rate.
“Currently, there are 33 of 1,067 Manatee Bay students who do not have the MMR vaccine for various reasons,” he said.
According to the CDC, Florida’s MMR vaccination rate is about 91 percent, lower than the national rate of 93 percent.
Florida currently has the largest outbreak in the US, and there have been 35 cases of measles in fifteen states in 2024 alone.
On Friday, Michigan recorded its first measles case since 2019. Additionally, Pennsylvania confirmed nine infections in January, eight of them in Philadelphia.
Last year, there were 58 total cases nationwide.
Measles is a viral infection that most commonly affects infants and young children.
Symptoms usually appear 10 to 14 days after initial exposure and include fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, swollen eyes, and large, blotchy skin.
The CDC says that one in five children who get sick will end up in the hospital and one in every 1,000 will develop a type of brain inflammation called encephalitis. And between one and three in every 1,000 children with measles will die.
Cold-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, and runny or stuffy nose, are often the first sign of measles.
The above shows year-over-year measles cases in the United States, according to the CDC.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says 58 cases of measles were confirmed in 2023, down from 121 in 2022.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “today it is almost always possible to prevent these diseases with a vaccine.”
The measles vaccine is often given as a combination injection against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), which also includes chickenpox.
Health care providers recommend that children between 12 and 15 months receive their first MMR vaccine, as well as a second between ages four and six, before starting school.
The graph shows the national estimate of kindergarteners with two doses of MMR over the years. Measles coverage is below the national target of 95 percent for the third year in a row
Dr. Ladapo has also deviated from CDC guidelines on the safety of Covid shots.
In October 2022, Dr. Ladapo recommended that men aged 18 to 39 refrain from receiving the Covid vaccine, citing a state-driven analysis that had not been peer-reviewed, which suggested the shots increased the risk of heart-related deaths by 84 percent.
The research has since been criticized by scientists who say it contains major statistical flaws.
MMR vaccine coverage has fallen another two percent between the 2019-2021 school year and the 2022-2023 school year, according to the CDC, meaning about a quarter of a million kindergartens are at risk for measles infection. throughout the United States.
School vaccine exemptions also reached a record high, topping five percent in ten states.
Experts have said the outbreaks are partly due to the growing number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children after the political fallout from Covid mandates and misinformation about vaccine safety.
John Moore, professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, told Washington Post: ‘The reason there is a measles outbreak in Florida schools is because many parents have not protected their children with the safe and effective measles vaccine.’
‘And why is that? It’s because the anti-vaccine sentiment in Florida comes from the top of the public health food chain: Joseph Ladapo.