August 22, 2008

Measles Spread From Lack of Vaccinations

Most of the people who contracted measles in two recent U.S. outbreaks hadn't been vaccinated, federal health officials said.

Among those measles cases reported during the first seven months of 2008, 76 percent occurred in those under the age of 20 and 91 percent occurred in those who hadn't been vaccinated or were of unknown vaccination status, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The report updates an earlier report on measles in the United States in 2008 and summarizes two recent U.S outbreaks among unvaccinated school-aged children. Of the 131 cases, 89 percent were imported from or associated with measles importations from other countries, particularly countries in Europe, where several outbreaks are ongoing.

Among the 131 cases, nine of the importations were in U.S. residents who had traveled abroad, and eight were in foreign visitors. An additional 76 percent of the 131 cases were linked epidemiologically to importations and 11 percent couldn't be determined.

The number of measles cases reported during Jan. 1 to July 31 is the highest year-to-date since 1996, not because of more imported cases, but from the spread of the disease after importation among school-age children whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated.