Thursday, May 1, 2008

Measles Outbreaks Linked to Lack of Vaccination and International Travel

Multiple outbreaks of measles are being investigated by CDC and state health authorities. Measles is a highly contagious disease spread through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms can include rash, high fever, coughing, and runny nose. The disease can also cause more serious complications, such as ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) — even death.

Since the turn of the year, CDC received a total of 64 reports of confirmed measles cases in nine states. Arizona, New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin all experienced more than three cases. All cases are considered related to overseas travel including Europe and Israel.

Of the 64 people infected, 63 had no documentation of compliant vaccination with 14 too young to be vaccinated.

Measles was considered eliminated from the US in 2000, but is easily imported from other parts of the world. 20 million cases of measles still occur each year, and the disease is a significant cause of vaccine-preventable death among children. In 2005, 311,000 children under age 5 died from the disease.

CDC Recommendations:
All children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine. The first dose is recommended at 12–15 months of age and the second dose at 4–6 years of age. All adults born during or after 1957 should receive at least one dose of vaccine unless they have documented evidence of measles immunity (a blood test or a physician's diagnosis of measles). Two doses are recommended for all international travelers, healthcare personnel, and students of secondary and post-secondary educational facilities. Infants 6–11 months of age should receive one dose prior to travel abroad.

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