CDC: Increase in measles due mainly to failure to immunize

USA Today reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced the US faces a spike in measles due to parents choosing not to immunize their children.So far, in 2013, we’ve had nine measles outbreaks and 175 confirmed cases. This almost triples the yearly average, according to Director Thomas Frieden, MD, who adds, “This isn’t the failure of a vaccine; it’s the failure to vaccinate,” as over 98% of patients failed to receive vaccinations.

The paper notes that, while the disease has been virtually eliminated throughout the West, the US still sees an average of 60 “imported” cases each year, primarily among visitors from abroad. The article also attributes the spike to parents who refuse vaccinations.

Reuters reports the CDC acknowledges at least 172 of this year’s 175 US cases involved patients infected overseas or who caught the disease from somebody who traveled internationally, while the sources of the other three infections are yet to be determined.

The CBS News website quotes Frieden, who noted, “Someday, it won’t be only measles at the international arrival gate; so, detecting diseases before they arrive is a wise investment in US health security.” He recommended physicians consider that patients displaying high fever and rashes may have contracted the disease and report cases to the local health department, “especially when associated with international travel or international visitors.”

According to US News & World Report, a JAMA Pediatrics editorial by physician Mark Grabowsky called hesitancy among parents to vaccinate children the US vaccination program’s “greatest threat,” stating, “Although this so-called vaccine hesitancy has not become as widespread in the United States as it appears to have become in Europe, it is increasing.” He also warned parents against delaying immunizations, urging them to get children immunized as soon as possible. CQ quotes a CDC statement that “on an average day, 430 children – 18 every hour – die of measles worldwide.”

HealthDay reports that the CDC study published in JAMA Pediatrics found the elimination of measles in the US announced in 2000 had been sustained through 2011, meaning there had been no continuous disease transmission during that time.

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