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Rise in measles cases at Broward elementary school could just be the beginning, doctor says

Measles cases on the rise in Broward County school
Measles cases on the rise in Broward County school 02:29

WESTON — A concerning rise in measles at a Broward County school is putting people on high alert after a total of four cases have been reported by the district over the weekend.

On Friday, Broward County Public Schools announced that there was one confirmed case reported at Manatee Bay Elementary School. The next day, BCPS announced that three additional cases were reported overnight, bringing the total to four.

The school district released a new statement after its latest discovery, reading in part:

"The health, safety and welfare of our students and staff remain our utmost priority. The District continues to work closely with the Florida Department of Health-Broward following three additional confirmed measles cases at Manatee Bay Elementary School."

The FDOH confirmed that the first case was a third-grade student who had not traveled. CBS News Miami's Nikiya Carrero spoke with an internal medicine doctor, who says the four measles cases could just be the beginning.

"The way this viral illness spreads, we foresee that the number of unvaccinated children, the immune-compromised, we will start to see an increase in those numbers definitely," said Dr. Pallavi Aneja, the program director of Internal Medicine Residency at HCA FL Northwest and Westside Hospitals.

According to a Broward County vaccine study, Manatee Bay Elementary's vaccination rate is at 89.31%. The school currently has 1,067 students enrolled, ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. So, that percentage of students not vaccinated are at risk for the highly contagious infection.

"Measles is spread just like an upper respiratory infection. So, it's the droplets," Aneja said. "If a child is sick — just getting sick with a runny nose, with conjunctivitis, which is red eyes, low-grade fever — that could be just beginning stages of measles."

The disease is known for red, blotchy rashes, but Aneja says that happens later on in the illness. She also says getting measles could affect your health years later.

"At times, rarely can [the disease] cause a very serious illness, which can affect the brain maybe even after five to seven years after measles," Aneja said. "So, which can cause something called panencephalitis — which is a brain infection — which could be fatal."

BCPS is continuing to monitor the situation and says the school's principal is in contact with families to keep them informed.

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