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Measles Outbreak

7 February 2015

Updated February 05, 2015. 
Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician.
In the United States, rates of measles, a vaccine-preventable disease, had been fairly low since the endemic spread of measles was eliminated in 2000.
Before the routine use of the measles vaccine (1963) and the MMR vaccine (1971), though, measles cases -- and complications from those cases -- were high. There used to be about 500,000 cases of measles and 500 measles deaths each year in the United States.
Measles Outbreaks 2015
Unfortunately measles cases have been on the rise recently. After hitting a record low number of cases in 2004 (just 37 cases), we seem to continue to hit new record highs for measles every few years now.
So far, there have already been over 644 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S. in 2014 - the most since 1994. And 2015 is getting off to a very strong start already. Most concerning, more and more, cases don't seem to have an source that is easy to find, which could mean that the endemic spread of measles has returned in the United States. So instead of having to travel out of the country or be exposed to someone who got measles with a link to international travel, you could get measles just by going to a ball game, a movie theater, or to Disneyland. That makes it more important than ever to learn how to avoid measles.
Measles Outbreaks - What You Need To Know
Other things to know about measles and measles outbreaks include:
  • From 2 to 5% of people do not respond to their first dose of measles vaccine, which is why a second (booster) dose is recommended. But more than 99% of people develop immunity to measles after two doses of a measles vaccine, like MMR.
  • A booster dose of MMR was not first recommended in 1989, so many adults born before 1985 may not have had two doses of MMR.
  • Measles is fatal in about 0.2% of cases.
  • Very few of the measles cases in these outbreaks are in people who are completely vaccinated. For example, in the outbreaks in Europe in 2011, when 30,000 people got measles, causing 8 deaths, 27 cases of measles encephalitis, and 1,482 cases of pneumonia, most cases were in unvaccinated (82%) or incompletely vaccinated (13%) people.
  • In addition to many developing countries where measles is still endemic, international measles outbreaks have been reported in Europe, Japan, and the Philippines, etc., which makes it important to make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling out of the US.
  • The measles virus is spread by respiratory droplets and can stay in an area for up to two hours after a person with measles symptoms has left.
  • People with measles are contagious from four days before they develop the measles rash.
  • Call your pediatrician if you think your child has measles (don't just show up at their office or in the ER), especially if he develops a high fever and/or rash during a local measles outbreak or after a trip out of the country.
  • It is expensive to contain a measles outbreak.

Most importantly, parents should understand that a measles vaccine (MMR) is the best way to protect your child from measles, and is especially important if there is a measles outbreak in your area or if you are traveling to an area with high rates of measles.

The rise in measles cases around the world has changed the recommendations for measles vaccination in the U.S. While children routinely get their first MMR vaccine at 12 months and a booster dose at 4 years, if they are traveling overseas, infants should get their first dose as young as six months of age. Children who are at least 12 months old should get two doses of MMR, separated by at least 28 days.

Please download the slides below...

  arrowmeasles malaysia.pdf (English - pdf - 286 Kb)   

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