October 27, 2005

Measles Outbreak Shows Vaccination Value

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A large measles outbreak in Indiana earlier this year shows what can happen when an imported case of measles encounters a group of unvaccinated individuals.

This outbreak and the serious cases that arose would not have occurred if long-standing measles vaccination guidelines had been followed, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The source of the Indiana outbreak, which occurred over a 4-week period in May and June, was an unvaccinated female teenager who had visited Romania at the time of a major measles outbreak.

Soon after she returned to Indiana, 34 measles cases occurred, most of them involving children whose parents had declined to have them vaccinated.

All of the patients recovered, although three were hospitalized, including one who required mechanical ventilation, the report indicates.

Local health departments in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois took a number of measures to prevent the outbreak from spreading further, including voluntary patient isolation, giving vaccine and immunoglobulin to susceptible contacts, and verifying the immune status of healthcare workers.

"The Indiana outbreak could have been prevented by adherence to long-standing Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations calling for measles vaccination of 1) international travelers, 2) children, and 3) healthcare workers," the report emphasizes.

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, October 27 2005.