Unvaccinated people lead to the most US measles cases in 15 years

The release of CDC data on US measles cases received a good deal of coverage, with most sources emphasizing that the disease, while relatively rare, still poses a threat, primarily due to the disease being passed by unvaccinated people.
Many sources also pointed to the role vaccination plays in preventing measles. NBC Nightly News reported that “the CDC said today last year was the worst year for measles outbreaks in the last 15 years in our country.”

The AP reports, “There were 222 cases of measles, a large jump from the 60 or so seen in a typical year.” The majority “of the cases last year were imported – either by foreign visitors or by US residents who picked up the virus overseas” and then spread to unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people.

The New York Times reports that “there were 37,000 measles cases last year in Europe, where resistance to vaccination is more common.”

Bloomberg News reports, “Almost half the cases directly brought in from another country came from Europe, primarily France, Italy, Romania, Spain and Germany, the CDC said.”

Reuters quotes Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, as saying, “It’s very important for travelers heading off to Europe to make sure they are up to date on their immunizations and that their children are too.”

Dr. Schuchat pointed out that “measles is preventable,” but “unvaccinated people put themselves and other people at risk for measles and its complications.”

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports, “Of the 2011 cases, according to a report in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 141 were among people who were eligible for the MMR vaccine but, for one reason or another, did not receive it.”

The blog adds that, “according to Dr. Anne Schuchat … many harried parents simply sign” an “exemption application because that is easier than actually procuring the immunization. Many parents, she added, ‘simply don’t think there is a threat of disease.'”

CQ reports, “The median age of those who contracted measles was 14.” In 2012, “27 cases have been reported, said Schuchat.”

The CNN “The Chart” blog reports, “Measles was wiped out in the US for more than a decade, thanks in large part to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Cases here are sporadic and although the numbers reported seem relatively small, the CDC says vaccination is still key to maintaining elimination in the US.”

The Time “Healthland” blog reports that “the highest caseload before last year was 508, in 1996.”

HealthDay reports, “There have been no deaths from measles in the United States since 2008, noted Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases.” However, “one of every three people who contracted the disease last year had to be hospitalized.”

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