TODAY   |  March 31, 2014

More than 20 measles cases confirmed in California

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor, discusses a measles outbreak in Southern California and the symptoms of the illness.

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

>>> health officials are dealing with the measles outbreak in southern california . cases have also been reported in san francisco and here in new york. nbc's chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman is here with more.

>> good morning, natalie.

>> we've got 21 cases confirmed of measles in orange county . but there have been 49 cases confirmed in the state so far this year.

>> right.

>> are we seeing a spike there? and why?

>> what we're really seeing, eight big pockets are accounting for 77% of cases in this country and there are two reasons. undervaccinated children or unvaccinated children. very highly contagious infection. cause is a runny nose , fever, rash, it can also kill children. and the vaccination prevents this. most kids get it, you know, 12 to 15 months of age and there's a booster, and you and i know when we travel to other countries, we get boosters as adults because we can bring it back to people.

>> remind us the symptoms of measles.

>> again, fever, runny nose , cough, feeling lousy and then a crazy nonbumpy rash. every parent should know what it looks like. and i know the simple thing is don't scare us. i want parents to be a little scared. because in 15 years ago, we thought we eradicated measles in this country. and we've seen an uptick. there are other diseases like polio and others around the world if we let our guard down on immunizations, all of our kids are at harm's risk.