Seven cases of measles confirmed in Florida outbreak that began in an elementary school

Manatee Bay Elementary School referred NBC News to the school district for information about the outbreak.

The health department in Broward County said in a statement that it was “carrying out an epidemiological investigation” of the measles outbreak and working to identify close contacts of those diagnosed, but that “all details regarding the investigation are confidential.”

In the 2022-23 school year, Florida’s statewide MMR vaccination rate was around 91%, compared to the national rate of 93%, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. rate has declined from 95% since the 2020-21 school year. The World Health Organization considers 95% the threshold necessary for herd immunity from measles.

Seven people have been diagnosed with measles in an outbreak that started at the Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, Florida.

The Florida Department of Health in Broward County announced in a notice to local health care providers on Feb. 16 that a third grader with no history of travel had been diagnosed. Three other measles cases at the elementary school were confirmed on Saturday, followed by one each on Monday and Tuesday.

 

The latest case to appear in the state’s surveillance system is a child 4 years old or younger — the first case outside the school. Of the other six cases, three were in children ages 5 to 9, and three in those 10 to 14.

The county health department issued an advisory Sunday saying that it was “working with all partners, including Broward County Public Schools and local hospitals, to identify contacts that are at risk of transmission.”

The Florida Department of Health has not recommended that all the school’s students — or even just unvaccinated ones — stay home, as is generally done in such outbreaks. Instead, it is “deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance,” according to a letter Tuesday from Joseph Ladapo, the state’s surgeon general.

It’s not publicly known whether those infected were vaccinated, NBC 6 South Florida reported. Two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine are 97% effective.

John J. Sullivan, communications and legislative affairs officer for the   School District Broward County Public said in a statement on Friday that “the school will continue with all the preventative measures that have been implemented, such as enhanced cleanings at the school, and remains in communication with its families.”

Health officials in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, warned on Thursday that a person with measles visited two healthcare facilities there on Jan. 3, which in turn exposed others. No cases have been confirmed in the county, however.

None of the people in Philadelphia who’ve been diagnosed was immune to measles, the city’s health department said, which means they either never got a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or had not contracted measles in the past. The health department declined to offer specifics about the patients’ ages or vaccination status, however.

The outbreak has led four people to be admitted to the hospital in addition to the two who were already hospitalized, the department said.

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