Despite having eliminated measles in the US nearly two decades ago, the US is once again seeing record-setting cases of the vaccine-preventable disease. The number of measles cases reported in the US this year reached 1,001 on June 5, 2019. This is the largest number of measles cases reported in the US since the last major outbreak in 1994.
“We cannot say this enough: Vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II.
“…the unthinkable has happened. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 1,001 measles cases in the US this year—all preventable,” said NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MD. “We have had a safe and effective vaccine against measles available in the US for more than 40 years, and thanks to immunization, measles transmission had been eliminated in the US in 2000. Now, we have turned back the clock. … This should never have happened. We know how to eliminate measles. We must all work to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Read recent news of interest from the world of infectious diseases, with a focus on measles:
- US Measles Cases Surpass 1,000 This Year: The number of cases of measles in the United States this year has surpassed 1,000, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. The agency said there have been 1,001 cases so far this year. That’s 20 more cases than the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention reported on Monday in its weekly national update. This year, which is barely half over, has the greatest number of cases in a single year in nearly three decades.
The Measles Infected Nearly Every Child in the US — Until A Vaccine Was Introduced: Nearly every American child contracted measles at some point before they turned 15 before a measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About half a million new cases were reported to the CDC every year between 1942, the first year it was tracked, and 1962. Most cases went unreported, and the CDC estimates up to 4 million people actually caught the measles every year. About 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized and 1,000 suffered encephalitis, or brain swelling.
Measles Outbreaks Put US At Risk Of Losing Prized ‘Elimination’ Status: With two large and still growing outbreaks in New York pushing the country’s measles count to a quarter-century high, public health officials are starting to grapple with an unpleasant prospect. The Rockland County and Brooklyn outbreaks have dragged on for eight months. If transmission from either of those outbreaks continues until late September, the United States will likely lose a hard-fought and prized status—that of a country deemed to have “eliminated” measles. And if that happens—Venezuela and Brazil are the only other countries in the Americas where measles is considered endemic, or constantly circulating—the implications could be profound, experts say.
- Maine Bars Residents From Opting Out Of Immunizations For Religious Or Philosophical Reasons. Maine has become the fourth state in the nation to prohibit people from opting out of immunization for religious or philosophical reasons. Governor Janet Mills (D) signed a bill into law removing all non-medical exemptions to vaccination from the books. Maine’s new law comes amid a resurgence of measles across the nation.
- Anti-Vaxxers Target Communities Battling Measles: In a suburban shopping center an hour north of New York City, hundreds of mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered in a sex-partitioned ballroom to hear leaders of the national anti-vaccine movement. State and national health officials say groups such as [these] are directly responsible for the measles outbreaks that struck Orthodox communities here and in New York City this year. Through an aggressive social media campaign, pamphleteering and traveling road shows that pop up in receptive and often insular communities, officials say, the anti-vaccine movement has produced pockets of unvaccinated children where the highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease can catch fire.
Indianapolis 500 Officials To Offer Measles Vaccine At Race: Some fans attending the Indianapolis 500 can get measles vaccines at the track’s infield medical center. IndyCar medical director Geoffrey Billows said a “very limited supply” of vaccines will be available at the medical building near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum. He says most insurance companies will cover the cost. Billows encourages concerned fans to get vaccinated before coming to a race expected to attract in excess of 275,000.
- The Measles Imperative: Communicate, Educate, Vaccinate! Measles certainly is a matter of great interest in the United States. In recent weeks, we have seen the true effects of the measles outbreak, which has sparked awareness of the need for the vaccine among the general public. We as healthcare professionals need to vaccinate as many persons who are susceptible and unvaccinated as quickly as possible. That will end the outbreak and further ensure that future importations of measles from abroad will not spread widely in the United States.
To learn more about strategies for managing recent outbreaks of measles and hepatitis A, register for the free NFID webinar on June 19, 2019 at 12 PM ET: Managing Outbreaks of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases.
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