I haven’t written about measles in over two years, but unfortunately it’s in the news again.
Measles is a very contagious viral illness that causes a high fever, rash, cough, and a runny nose. Complications include pneumonia, brain inflammation and death. Prior to 1963 there were hundreds of thousands of measles cases in the US annually, causing hundreds of deaths. In 1963 the measles vaccine was introduced, leading to an immediate decrease of measles cases in this country.
In 2000 measles was declared eliminated from the US. That means that for at least 12 months there was no person-to-person transmission of measles in the US, and any cases in the US were acquired by travelers abroad. But since then, instead of progressive global elimination of measles, we’ve had several setbacks.
In January to April of this year there were ” target=”_blank”>22 in Orange County and 10 in Los Angeles County. Of them, the vast majority were linked to recent travel abroad. Most of the patients were either unvaccinated or had no vaccination documentation available.
The problem is that vaccination has been a victim of its own success. Before 1963 everyone knew lots of people who had measles, and everyone heard of some people who had terrible complications. The case for vaccination was obvious and universally understood. But with nearly universal vaccination, public understanding of the risk of measles has waned and increasing numbers of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids. Add to that ” target=”_blank”>The Measles Outbreak Coming Near You (Wall Street Journal)
” target=”_blank”>O.C. measles outbreak spurs officials to call for immunizations (Los Angeles Times)
” target=”_blank”>Notes from the Field: Measles — California, January 1–April 18, 2014(Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report)
Some of my previous posts about measles: