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'It's definitely something that's on our radar': Colorado doctors warning of rise in measles cases nationwide, as flu season ends

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - As the flu season ends, Colorado doctors are keeping an eye on the rise of measles cases nationwide.

11 News checked in with UCHealth, who reported a fairly typical 2023/2024 flu season, with a peak around the holidays. Doctors also say there were no major strain changes for COVID-19 this season.

"One difference I would say is that, we still saw a lot of RSV. We think of RSV as certainly being a player in the respiratory season, but not like it is. Some of this also might be that we now have diagnostics, that you test for it more often, so maybe it's always been there, we just didn't fully appreciate in adults how many people get RSV, because we think of this as more of a kid's disease," said Senior Medical Director for Infection Control and Prevention Dr. Michelle Barron.

According to the CDC, Colorado is currently labeled as "low" activity in the nationwide influenza map (for week 12, ending March 23), but the state is surrounded by three states labeled as "high" activity.

Weekly US Map: Influenza Summary Update(Kasia Kerridge | CDC)

"I would say, there might be a few extra cases here and there after spring break, just because... people are gathering. If you look at the trends over the last even month, you can see that we peaked, and we're kind of coming down to that tail-end. It means that there is just less circulating, so if there's less circulating, you're less likely to get infected," said Barron.

But, as one respiratory disease season is coming to an end, UCHealth is monitoring another: measles. According to the CDC, there are more cases in the first quarter of 2024, than there were in all of 2023.

Number of measles cases reported by week 2023-2024 (as of March 28, 2024)(Kasia Kerridge | CDC)

"It's also unfortunately the most infectious disease we have. It can actually hangout in the air for a couple hours after somebody has been there. So, somebody that's either immunologically naive, or maybe has cancer or something that effects their immune system, that maybe they are more at risk, can then potentially acquire the disease," said Barron.

The CDC is reporting just under 100 measles cases currently in about 18 states, not including Colorado. More than half of cases were hospitalized, with most under the age of 5.

Jurisdictions Reporting Cases in 2024 (As of March 28, 2024)(Kasia Kerridge | CDC)

"It is definitely something that's on our radar. It's not at a worry state, but it's definitely a concern that we're paying attention to," said Barron. "Stay up to date with our vaccines. We're heading towards beautiful spring and summer where we love to be outside and doing things, and so you don't want to be sick and not be able to do enjoy that."

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