Cases Of Measles In U.S. Reach High Point
April 20, 2012

Cases Of Measles In U.S. Reach High Point

Connie K. Ho for

2011 saw the highest number of cases of measles, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported recently. 222 cases were reported last year, and 27 U.S cases have already been reported this year. The CDC believes that the surge in cases was due to international travelers and parents who were not vaccinated due to inconvenience or fear of health safety.

In information provided by the CDC, in 2000, the U.S. achieved measles elimination but importation of measles continued. Between 2001 and 2010, 222 measles cases and 17 measles outbreaks were reported. Of the 222 measles cases, 200 cases (90 percent) were attributed to importation. In 2011, a total of 31 states got measles and 86 percent of the people who were infected did not receive vaccinations beforehand.

Symptoms of the measles include bloodshot eyes, fever, full body rash, and muscle pain. However, CDC health officials believe that the illness can be prevented with vaccinations and other measures. For children between the ages of 12 and 15 months, the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is recommended. As well, a booster shot between the ages of four and six. One vaccination is enough to last a lifetime.

"We don't have to have this much measles, because measles is preventable," commented Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC´s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a Fox News article.

With large international events like the Summer Olympics in London coming up, it is even more necessary than ever to be vaccinated.

“Unvaccinated people put themselves and others at risk for measles and its complications,” since it remains widespread in most parts of the world,” remarked Schuchat during a reporters´ conference call. “They particularly put at risk people who are too young to be vaccinated who can sometimes have the worst complications.”

According to the CDC, about half the infections came from countries in Europe, such as France, Italy, Romania, and Spain.

"For those of you traveling abroad, bring back memories and not measles," noted Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a USA Today article.

Any disease like measles will be considered eliminated when it is no longer spread year-round or naturally. Until then, the CDC said doctors should be wary of patients who may have measles. The virus can easily spread through infected droplets in the air and in tight spaces. Those who demonstrate symptoms should be immediately isolated to prevent infection to those who have not yet been vaccinated.

“The clinicians in the country, pediatricians, internists, and family physicians, many of them have never seen measles,” Schuchat said in an article by Bloomberg Business Week. “In some of these outbreaks, the families went to doctors multiple times, visited emergency rooms, it took awhile for the cases to be diagnosed. During that period, measles was spread to other people.”

Measles should not be taken lightly, as one in three people who became infected last year had to be hospitalized. The last measles-related death was reported in 2003. No measles-related deaths occurred last year.