Add Florida to States with Recent Measles Outbreak

By: Georgia McKoy | Published: Mar 03, 2024

In a concerning development, six individuals have been diagnosed with measles at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, Florida. 

This situation unfolded rapidly after the Florida Department of Health announced the first case in a third-grade student. The subsequent cases were identified swiftly over the next few days, underscoring the urgency of the outbreak.

Broward County's Proactive Measures Against Measles

Following the outbreak, Broward County Public Schools have been actively responding to contain the spread.

Elementary school students sitting on the floor in a classroom, raising their hands eagerly to answer a question

Source: CDC/Unsplash

Fox News reports that John Sullivan, the chief communications and legislative affairs officer, stated, “The District is maintaining close coordination with the Health Department to address this ongoing situation.” These efforts include deep cleaning and updating air filtration systems to ensure a safe environment.

Coordination with Health Authorities

The situation has prompted a collaborative response from local health and school authorities.

A close-up of a human palm extended towards the camera, displaying multiple red spots characteristic of a measles rash


The Florida Department of Health is providing ongoing guidance, and according to Sullivan, “We expect to receive further guidance from the Florida Department of Health tomorrow and will continue to keep the school and its families updated with the latest information.”

Measles Cases Spread Across the United States

Florida is not alone in facing this health challenge.

Close-up view of skin showing a dense measles rash characterized by numerous small, red, slightly raised spots

Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eleven states, including Arizona, California, and New York, have reported measles cases. This widespread occurrence signals a growing concern that extends beyond a single community or state.

Nationwide Concern Over Measles

The detection of measles cases in multiple states reflects a broader national health issue.

A microscopic image showing a cluster of cells affected by the measles virus. The cells are stained in shades of pink and purple

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Health authorities are vigilant, monitoring the spread across states and emphasizing the need for preventive measures.

The Global Context of Measles

The resurgence of measles is not limited to the United States.

An image showing the back of a person lying down, with a visible measles rash covering the skin

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Guardian reports that in the United Kingdom, health officials have been urging vaccinations due to a rise in cases. The global increase in measles cases emphasizes the persistent threat of this disease.


Increase in Global Measles Mortality

According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, measles deaths have surged by over 40% globally.

A young child with curly hair, wearing a red shirt and silver bracelets, looks apprehensive while receiving a vaccine injection in their left arm

Source: Getty Images

This worrying statistic highlights the severe impact of measles outbreaks and the critical importance of vaccination and disease control measures.


Transmission and Risks of Measles

Measles is highly infectious, spreading through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

A person with dark hair and glasses is coughing into their fist while simultaneously holding up their other hand with palm facing forward in a 'stop' gesture

Source: Towfiqu barbhuiya/Unsplash

The CDC notes that symptoms commonly include a high fever, runny nose and then a rash of small red spots. However, the disease can have severe consequences, particularly for unvaccinated individuals, including hospitalization and, in some cases, death.


The Role of MMR Vaccination in Preventing Measles

NBC News explains that the outbreak underscores the significance of the MMR vaccine, which is 97% effective in preventing measles.

Two healthcare workers in scrubs are focused on preparing a syringe for vaccination. The man, wearing glasses and a cap, is carefully examining the syringe he holds up

Source: Getty Images

This outbreak occurs in a context where Florida’s MMR vaccination rate for the 2022-23 school year was approximately 91%, slightly below the national average of 93%. Notably, this national rate represents a decrease from 95% during the 2020-21 school year. The decline in vaccination rates is concerning given that the World Health Organization identifies a 95% vaccination rate as the minimum threshold needed to achieve herd immunity against measles.


Expert Insights on Measles Resurgence and Vaccine Hesitancy

Dr. Charles Mitchell from the University of Miami highlights a potential link between the recent measles outbreaks and vaccine hesitancy. 

A focused image of a healthcare professional's hands as she prepares a syringe for injection. Her nails are painted red, and she wears multiple rings

Source: Getty Images

He notes a trend of skepticism towards vaccine benefits and uptake, suggesting it could lead to more frequent outbreaks. Stressing the absence of alternative treatments for measles, Dr. Mitchell points out the vital importance of the MMR vaccine in preventing the disease and protecting public health.


Enhanced Safety Protocols at Manatee Bay Elementary

NBC News reports that the school district has implemented rigorous preventive measures to curb the measles outbreak, including thorough cleaning and updating the school’s air filtration system.

A young child is intently focused on painting a picture, holding a paintbrush in hand. The child is seated at a table surrounded by art supplies, with other children in the background also engaged in drawing activities

Source: CDC/Unsplash

Superintendent Peter Licata reassured the community, stating that the school is, “Safe if your child is vaccinated,” ensuring parents that proactive steps are being taken to protect students.


Diverse Opinions on School Attendance Amid Outbreak

While the school district emphasizes safety measures for in-person attendance, Florida’s Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo offers a different perspective, suggesting parents weigh the decision for their children to attend school. 

A group of young students are seated at a cafeteria table, enjoying their lunchtime together in a school setting. One boy in the foreground is smiling and holding a sandwich, while his classmates around him are engaged with their own lunches and conversations

Source: CDC/Unsplash

He acknowledges the community’s high immunity rates but also considers the impact on families and education. This approach has sparked a debate among public health experts regarding the best course of action during the outbreak.