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Two more children have contracted measles in Broward, bringing county's total to eight

Two new cases of measles in Broward
Two new cases of measles in Broward 02:54

MIAMI - Two more children have come down with measles in Broward, bringing the county's total to eight.

In the last week or so, the Broward school district that six students at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston contracted measles. As of Monday, 33 out of the school's 1067 students had not received the measles vaccine.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed the two new cases on Sunday. One of the children is between five and nine years old, the other is younger than five years old. They do not attend a public school in Broward. 

Last week, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sent parents a controversial letter permitting them to send unvaccinated children to school amid the outbreak. 

The Department of Health "is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance," wrote Ladapo, who was appointed to head the agency by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose name is listed above Ladapo's in the letterhead, KFF Health News reported.

Ladapo's move contradicts advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I don't know why the health department wouldn't follow the CDC recommendations," said Thresia Gambon, president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician who practices in Miami and Broward, the county affected by the current measles outbreak. "Measles is so contagious. It is very worrisome."

The CDC advises that unvaccinated students stay home from school for three weeks after exposure. Because the highly contagious measles virus spreads on tiny droplets through the air and on surfaces, students are considered exposed simply by sitting in the same cafeteria or classroom as someone infected. And a person with measles can pass along an infection before they develop a fever, cough, rash, or other signs of the illness. About 1 in 5 people with measles end up hospitalized, 1 in 10 develop ear infections that can lead to permanent hearing loss, and about 1 in 1,000 die from respiratory and neurological complications.

Last week, Manatee Bay Elementary gave parents the option to keep their kids home for three weeks while the school offers online, continuing education without teachers. On Monday, there were 216 absences. 

Florida is one of 11 states to see a measles outbreak this year.  

KFF Health News contributed to this report. KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF - the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism.

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