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Measles, Meningitis, and Plagues in the Miami Community


The Healthy People 2020 comprises 10-year targets that aim at guiding the U.S. healthcare system in the promotion and prevention of maladies in a bid to have a healthy population. The initiative has 42 topic areas that include sexually-transmitted, mental and communicable diseases, health indicators, substance abuse, immunization and vaccines, among others, and the respective epidemiological data for each aspect (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2010). In total, the topic areas have more than 1,200 objectives. This essay, therefore, discusses the three common communicable diseases in the U.S., namely, measles, meningitis, and plague, which affect the Miami community, the discovery of these diseases, and the plans of action to contain them as stipulated in the Healthy People 2020.

Measles in Miami, Florida

Measles is a common infectious disease in Florida. According to Orenstein et al. (2004) measles is an infectious disease that is usually detected by conducting laboratory assay, after a patient presents positive symptoms. The measures employed in the prophylaxis of measles include vaccinations, with kids typically immunized at the ages of 19 -35 months. Cases of measles are not new to the United States and according to the report by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), the US experienced the highest cases of measles in its history in 2014, with a record 668 cases from 27 states (Centers for disease Control and Prevention, 2015). These cases occur in spite of the promising efforts aimed at eliminating measles in the United States by the year 2000. In a 2015 report by the CDC, for the first half of the year, i.e., from January to May, 169 people from 20 states, including Miami were diagnosed with measles with 70% of the cases emanating from an outbreak associated with an amusement park in California (Centers for disease Control and Prevention, 2015). The 2015 cases are speculated to have been spread by a person who picked the infection overseas and visited the park while still infected. As for the 2014 cases, the outbreak was due to an infected person from the Philippines, which was experiencing an epidemic at the time.

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In their 2004 surveillance in five major cities, including Miami, Oreinstein et al. (2004) discovered that measles in the US is more prevalent in major cities. They attributed this to the influx of infected people from endemic areas to cities, which usually have high populations, and the high likelihood of human contact. The Florida Department (2007) reports that five laboratories diagnosed measles across the state and revealed an incidence rate of 0.03%. All the cases were from a single outbreak, with four cases from case investigation and one identified by a health specialist. The incidences were identified among individuals of a religious community that do not immunize frequently.

Meningitis in Miami, Florida

The World Health Organization describes meningitis as a bacterial malady caused by Neisseria meningitidis. The disease is restricted to humans and is the major cause of meningitis. The pathogen is diagnosed from blood and cerebral spinal fluid. Epidemiology shows that meningitis was reported in 24 out of 67 counties in the state of Florida (Florida Department, 2007). The statistics indicate that meningitis is fairly distributed across the state and when compared to plague, it is a more common malady. Vaccination is effective in prevention and control of meningitis in Miami. The Florida Department (2007) states that two types of vaccines are used; the first one was developed in 1978 and the second in 2005. In the case of healthy individuals, who encounter an infected patient’s respiratory secretions, antibiotic administration is recommended with an approved regimen (Florida Department, 2007).

Plague in Miami, Florida

Plague is a bacterial disease that affects humans and other animals, and the causative agent is a bacterium called Yersinia pestis. Plague affects the Miami community, contributing to the high morbidity and mortality rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012), between 1900 and 2010, there were about 999 cases of human plagues, 80% of which were bubonic. Miami being on the Eastern Coast has thus seen fewer cases of human plagues. In identification, plague was introduced in the US by rats ferried in a ship from plague-infested areas in Asia in the early part of the 20th century. Plague, therefore, started in port cities before spreading to other areas. Epidemiologists theorize that plague-infested rats from urban areas mingled with rural rats and as a result, plagues became prevalent in rural areas, especially the Western parts of the US.

Plans to Curb Communicable Diseases

According to the Healthy People 2020, the US government in conjunction with several states has developed objectives to curb infectious diseases. One of the objectives is to develop stronger vaccines against measles and meningitis (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2010). Doctors from the Miami department of health are urging Floridians to ensure their children are vaccinated against measles with MMR vaccine if they have not done so. This was especially in the wake of a measles outbreak in Western coast in California that had started spreading (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2010). This is in line with the healthy People 2020 objective of the State Health Department, which is to collaborate with CDC to sensitize people on measles and how to prevent it. In 2010, the State Department came up with a plan entitled ‘Healthy People 2020 Immunization-related objectives to curb measles, (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2010).

The objectives of the plan are commensurate with the Healthy People 2020 objectives under immunization and infectious diseases for both measles and meningitis. In line with the 2020 objective of reducing meningococcal infections, the State made plans to ensure a measles vaccine is available for US case for both measles and meningitis. Under the 2020 objective to achieve and maintain effective vaccine coverage for universally recommended vaccines, the state department has plans to ensure children between the months of 19 to 35 have at least one dose of MMR. The plan covers both measles and meningitis. In line with the healthy People 2020 objective of maintaining vaccine coverage levels for children in kindergarten, the state has plans to ensure that children of kindergarten-going age receive at least two doses of MMR vaccine. The vaccine also covers measles.

Based on Healthy People 2010, Miami has made three action plans to contain plague. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services (2010), the aim of the Healthy People 2020 is to reduce or eliminate the prevalence of infectious diseases that are vaccine preventable. In this view, Miami’s plan of action is to undertake extensive and routine vaccination of children and adults, who are at risk. Other plans of action, based on Healthy People 2020, are early diagnosis, effective treatment, and active surveillance to quarantine people and animals. These plans of actions comprise goals and objectives, which Miami strives to achieve.


Measles, meningitis, and plagues are infectious diseases that are still common in Miami despite the efforts of the health care system to eliminate them. Assessment of Miami community shows that it has not fully aligned itself with the objectives of Healthy People 2020 in prevention and control of these infections. Given that measles, meningitis, and plague are infectious diseases that are vaccine preventable, current plans of actions of Miami, based on Healthy People 2020, are extensive vaccination, early diagnosis, effective treatment, and active surveillance.