Nightly News   |  April 24, 2014

Why the Measles Outbreak Is ‘An Airplane Away’

Measles is circulating around the world, and now a growing number of people in the U.S. are being diagnosed with the contagious disease.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the united states is making a come back and today, the centers for disease control pushed back at parents who are declining vaccines for their children. the number of children with measles in this country is spiking, along with mumps and whooping cough and in light of the new numbers, an infectious disease expert blamed rumors and conspiracy theories for a fall off in vaccinations. young parents today haven't seen these deciiseases, and they don't respect or fear them. this is an issue of public health and where we begin tonight with dr. nancy snyderman .

>> reporter: new mom meredith green stein had a scar lately saying three month old raleigh might have been exposed to measles.

>> we knew something had to be done. we took her immediately to the emergency room .

>> reporter: she an nbc employee say everything turned out okay and tests were negative but she has every right to be worried. this extremely contagious disease spread by sneezes is surging at the fastest pace in two decades.

>> in the first four months of the year, we're breaking records .

>> reporter: today the cdc says 129 measles cases from 13 states has been reported in the united states this year. most have been in california and new york. the majority of those who have become ill have not been vaccinated. a growing number of unvaccinated americans combined with international travel has health officials concerned.

>> measles are still circulating around the world. it's an airplane away, and we need people to make sure they are vaccinated, and that their kids are up to date on vaccines.

>> things to ask about, international travel .

>> reporter: at this medical center in brooklyn, this doctor is making sure the staff knows what to look for.

>> high fever, rush.

>> reporter: because most have never seen measles before.

>> because we're seeing an increase measles case, most haven't seen measles, so we're trying to educate them.

>> reporter: the symptoms of measles again really begin seven to 14 days after a person has been infected. first a mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, sore throat, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth and a rash appears on the face and spreads downward. she isn't taking any chances. she got her four-year-old son james vaccinated today.

>> i want to protect him. especially he gets sick very often, so i want to protect him.

>> reporter: it's easy to forget before the measles vaccine became available, this disease infected half a million people every year, sending nearly 50,000 people to the hospital and complications like pneumonia and death could happen.