High number of reported measles cases in the U.S. in 2011—linked to outbreaks abroad
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High number of reported measles cases in the U.S. in 2011—linked to outbreaks abroad

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      Wednesday, June 22, 2011 12:45 EST (12:45 PM EST) CDCHAN-00323-11-06-22-ADV-N

      Measles is a highly contagious, acute viral illness that is transmitted by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. After an infected person leaves a location, the virus remains contagious for up to 2 hours on surfaces and in the air. Measles can cause severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.

      Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 due to our highly effective vaccination program, but it is still endemic in many countries in Europe (including Western Europe), Africa, and Asia (including India). The increase in measles cases and outbreaks in the United States this year underscores the ongoing risk of importations, the need for high measles vaccine coverage, and prompt and appropriate public health response to measles cases and outbreaks.

      From January 1 through June 10 this year, 152 confirmed cases of measles were reported to CDC. This is the highest reported number during the same period since 1996. Most cases (131) were associated with importations from measles-endemic countries involving unvaccinated U.S. residents who recently traveled abroad, unvaccinated visitors to the United States, and people linked to these imported cases. To date, 12 outbreaks (3 or more linked cases) have occurred, accounting for 48% of the 152 cases. Of the total case-patients, 130 (86%) were unvaccinated or had undocumented vaccination status. Of the 135 case-patients who were U.S. residents, 84 (62%) were unvaccinated, 29 (21%) had undocumented vaccination status, 10 (7%) had received 1 dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, 11 (8%) had received 2 doses, and 1 (1%) had received 3 (documented) doses.

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