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Schools on Alert as Measles Makes a Comeback

Almost 20 years after disease declared eliminated, cases continue to rise

February 5, 2019

The current measles outbreak in the United States is not news for school custodians in Washington state, which has been averaging more than one new measles case a day, CNN reports.

Since January 1, 47 cases have been confirmed in Clark County and at least one case in King County. Most cases—34—involve children between the ages of 1 and 10, putting staff at day cares and schools on high alert.

Building and health officials in New York have been dealing with measles since last fall, with the New York State Department reporting at least 209 cases since October—64 cases in Brooklyn and 145 in Orange and Rockland counties.

Custodians and facility managers in other states also need to be aware of the disease as at least seven other states have reported measles cases this year: Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Colorado, California, and Georgia.

Although measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, the annual number of cases has ranged from a low of 37 in 2004 to a high of 667 in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since January 31, 2019, 79 cases have already been reported.

Most cases have been among people who are not vaccinated against measles. In Washington state, 41 of the 48 cases occurred in unvaccinated people.

Health officials are working to promote the importance of vaccination in preventing the comeback of a preventable disease. In the meantime, custodians and managers in schools and other buildings that house children should continue to employ cleaning and disinfecting methods that help protect the health of building residents while protecting themselves by making sure they are fully immunized.

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