Two more children in south Florida have been diagnosed with measles as the state’s outbreak 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. 

Officials said that one child was between five and nine years old, and the other was under five. It’s unclear if they were vaccinated. 

This brings the county’s total cases to eight – six of whom were students at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston.

It’s unclear if the two newest cases are linked to the school.

The surge in measles cases comes as Florida’s surgeon general, Dr Joseph Ladapo, has been accused of fueling the virus’ spread by defying guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Vaccination rates in children entering kindergarten in Broward County compared to the rest of Florida, where measles is surging

Vaccination rates in children entering kindergarten in Broward County compared to the rest of Florida, where measles is surging

Florida's Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo (pictured) told parents they could decide whether to quarantine their children or let them keep going to school. This plan has come under increased scrutiny

Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo (pictured) told parents they could decide whether to quarantine their children or let them keep going to school. This plan has come under increased scrutiny

Dr Ladapo instead wrote last week in a letter to parents that he could leave the choice of whether to keep kids 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, it stated: ‘DOH is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.’

Ben Hoffman, president of the AAP, responded to Dr Ladapo’s advice to parents on measles: ‘It runs counter to everything I have ever heard and everything that I have read. 

‘It runs counter to our policy. It runs counter to what the [CDC] would recommend.’ 

Broward County Superintendent Peter Licata told Local News 10 last week that Manatee Bay Elementary School, where six of the eight sickened children attend, has a 92 percent vaccination rate.

‘Currently, there are 33 of 1,067 Manatee Bay students that do not have an MMR vaccine for various reasons,’ he said. 

According to the CDC, the MMR vaccine rate in Florida is approximately 91 percent, which is below the national rate of 93 percent. 

Florida currently has the largest outbreak in the US – and there have been 35 cases of the measles across fifteen states in 2024 alone. 

On Friday, Michigan registered its first measles case since 2019. Additionally, Pennsylvania confirmed nine infections in January, eight of them in Philadelphia. 

Last year, there were 58 cases total across the country. 

Measles is a viral infection that most commonly affects infants and young children. 

Symptoms typically appear about 10 to 14 days after initial exposure and include fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, inflamed eyes, and a large, blotchy skin case. 

The CDC states that one in five children who become ill will end up in the hospital, and one in 1,000 will develop a type of brain swelling called encephalitis. And about one to three out of 1,000 children with measles will die. 

Cold-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough and a runny or blocked nose, are usually the first signal of measles

Cold-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough and a runny or blocked nose, are usually the first signal of measles

The above shows year-by-year cases of measles in the United States, according to the CDC

The above shows year-by-year cases of measles in the United States, according to the CDC

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that 58 cases of the measles were confirmed in 2023, a decrease from 121 in 2022.  

According to the Mayo Clinic, ‘measures can now almost always be prevented with a vaccine.’

The measles vaccine is often given as a combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) shot, which also includes the chicken pox (varicella).  

Health care providers recommend that children between 12 and 15 months old receive their first MMR shot, as well as a second one 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 running

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 running

Dr Ladapo has also strayed away from CDC guidance over the safety of Covid shots.

In October 2022, Dr Ladapo recommended men 18 to 39 years old refrain from getting a Covid vaccine, citing a state-driven analysis that had not been peer-reviewed, which suggested the shots raised the risk of cardiac-related deaths by 84 percent.

The research has since been slammed by scientists who say it contains major statistical flaws. 

MMR vaccine coverage has dropped a further two percent between the 2019-2021 school year to the 2022-2023 school year, according to the CDC, which means that roughly a quarter of a million kindergartens are at risk of measles infection across the US.

Exemptions from school shots was also at a record high, exceeding five percent in ten states.

Experts have said that the outbreaks are in part due to the increasing amount of parents refusing to have their children vaccinated after political fallout to Covid mandates and misinformation about vaccine safety.

John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, told the Washington Post: ‘The reason why there is a measles outbreak in Florida schools is because too many parents have not had their children protected by the safe and effective measles vaccine.’

‘And why is that? It’s because anti-vaccine sentiment in Florida comes from the top of the public health food-chain: Joseph Ladapo.’ 

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