U.S. Measles Cases Soar in 2014
The confirmed cases of measles in the U.S. for nearly the first half of 2014 are already eight times greater than the average number of cases reported each year. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirms 477 measles cases from January 1, 2014 through June 13, 2014, while only about 60 cases of measles are reported in the U.S. annually.
Measles was eliminated in the U.S. in the year 2000 when no new measles cases or outbreaks originated in this country for at least 12 months. This elimination was attributed to highly effective vaccination programs, strong public health systems, and proactive detection and response to measles cases and outbreaks. The elimination means thatmeasles is no longer native to the United States. New measles cases occur, but they are from infected people from other countries.
What is Measles?
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the measles virus. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. It spreads through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. Complications include diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, and death in extreme cases. These complications are more common among children under age 5 and adults over age 20.
Why the Climb?
The CDC reports these contributions to the rise of measles cases:
- Measles is common worldwide. Travelers continue to bring it into the U.S.
- Measles is highly contagious. Unprotected and unvaccinated people are at risk.
- Measles cases put people at risk who can’t get the vaccine due to age or health.
- Measles cases occur in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.
2014: The Philippines is currently experiencing widespread measles outbreaks.
2013: The U.S. experienced 11 outbreaks.
2011: France experienced a large outbreak, which spread to the U.S.
2008: Measles spread to communities with groups of unvaccinated people.
Complete elimination of measles requires worldwide community education, proactive vaccination programs, and protecting people who cannot get the vaccine. By eliminating measles from each country, there will be no place where measles can spread. That is why the measles vaccine is important.