Missouri’s rate of measles is on the rise. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said measles cases or outbreaks have emerged in several states, including Missouri earlier this year.

Measles is a highly contagious and serious disease, especially serious for children under age five and those who are immunocompromised. Parents and guardians are encouraged to check their child’s vaccination records to make sure they have received the measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMR, vaccine.

The way to combat the increasing cases is through herd immunity, which is achieved through a measles vaccination rate of 95% or more.

“Achieving this level of vaccination creates a barrier that limits the spread of infectious disease within a community, safeguarding those who are unable to be vaccinated due to their age or compromised immune systems,” said Dr. George Turabelidze, state epidemiologist with DHSS.

According to state data, the MMR vaccination rate dropped from 95.4% in the 2016-17 school year to 90.5% at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. Non-medical exemptions have increased from 1.9% to 3.5%.

Common symptoms include a rash that starts as flat red spots on the head and spreads to other parts of the body, high fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes, and tiny white spots inside the mouth. The virus spreads through coughing and sneezing.

If the virus is not treated, complications can get severe.

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