Despite measles being preventable, a recent spate means that the US has experienced the largest measles outbreak since 1994.
228 cases of measles were recorded between January 1st and May 23rd of this year – 48 of which resulted in hospitalisation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report detailing the 20-year inflated high, essentially condemning those who ‘opt-out’ of getting vaccinated. 90% of those infected during this year’s outbreak were unvaccinated or did not know their vaccination status.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Coenter for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, said “The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people, primarily U.S. residents, who got measles in other countries, brought the virus back to the United States and spread to others in communities where many people are not vaccinated” said Dr. Anne Schuchat.
The cases examined this year are believed to have been imported from 18 countries, with travel to the Philippines suggested as a part of the cause. The CDC are concerned that an increase in travel over the summer period will also mean an increase in transmissions of measles and have used the report to encourage health-care professionals to ensure that their patients are up to date on vaccinations.
The measles outbreak is problematic as many U.S healthcare providers are inexperienced at treating the diseases because of previously strong vaccination efforts. In fact, Measles was declared ‘eliminated’ in America in 2000 because there hadn’t been any continuous transmission in more than a year.
Despite evidence indicating that measles vaccines are both safe and effective, of those who were not vaccinated 85% had consciously chosen not to be, citing personal reasons. It is recommended that starting at 12 months, infants receive two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Children below this age who will be traveling internationally can receive one does of the vaccine beforehand.