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Issue 1123
IAC Express: Weekly immunization news and information
Issue 1123: May 30, 2014

Special Edition: MMWR Early Release
CDC publishes an MMWR Early Release report on record-breaking year in reported cases of measles in the U.S.

On May 29, CDC published an MMWR Early Release titled Measles—United States, January 1–May 23, 2014. The article provides details on the 288 confirmed measles cases occurring between January 1 and May 23 and reported to CDC by 18 states and New York City. On May 29, CDC held a telebriefing for the media and issued a press release about the record-breaking number of cases of measles in the U.S. Links to the telebriefing transcript and audio recording and the related press release are provided at the end of this IAC Express article. The CDC press release is reprinted below.

Two hundred and eighty-eight cases of measles were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States between Jan. 1 and May 23, 2014. This is the largest number of measles cases in the United States reported in the first five months of a year since 1994. Nearly all of the measles cases this year have been associated with international travel by unvaccinated people.

“The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people, primarily U.S. residents, who got measles in other countries, brought the virus back to the United States and spread to others in communities where many people are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. “Many of the clusters in the U.S. began following travel to the Philippines where a large outbreak has been occurring since October 2013.”

Of the 288 cases, 280 (97 percent) were associated with importations from at least 18 countries. More than one in seven cases have led to hospitalization. Ninety percent of all measles cases in the United States were in people who were not vaccinated or whose vaccination status was unknown. Among the U.S. residents who were not vaccinated, 85 percent were religious, philosophical or personal reasons. 

The large number of measles cases this year stresses the importance of vaccination. Healthcare providers should use every patient encounter to ensure that all their patients are up to date on vaccinations; especially, before international travel.

More than ever healthcare providers need to be alert to the possibility of measles and be familiar with the signs and symptoms so they can detect cases early.

“Many U.S. healthcare providers have never seen or treated a patient with measles because of the nation’s robust vaccination efforts and our rapid response to outbreaks,” said Schuchat.

Patients who present with fever and rash along with cough, runny nose, or pink eye should be evaluated for measles; especially, if the patient is unvaccinated and recently traveled internationally or was exposed to someone else who has measles or recently traveled. If healthcare providers suspect a patient with measles, they should immediately isolate the patient to help prevent the disease from spreading, immediately report the case to their local health department and collect specimens for serology and viral testing.

Timely vaccination is the best way to prevent measles. Infants and young children are at high risk of getting a serious case of measles. CDC recommends two doses of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine for everyone starting at age 12 months. For those traveling internationally, CDC recommends that all U.S. residents older than 6 months receive MMR vaccine, if needed, prior to departure.

Measles is a serious respiratory disease that is highly contagious. Anyone who is not protected against the disease is at risk, especially if they travel internationally. Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 122,000 die from the disease each year. Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, meaning that there was no longer continuous measles transmission for more than 12 months.


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IAC Express is supported in part by Grant No. U38IP000589 from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC. Its contents are solely the responsibility of IAC and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC. IAC Express is also supported by educational grants from the following companies: bioCSL Inc.; MedImmune, Inc.; Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.; Novartis Vaccines; Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Inc.; Pfizer, Inc.; and sanofi pasteur.
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AAFP, American Academy of Family Physicians; AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics; ACIP, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; AMA, American Medical Association; CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; FDA, Food and Drug Administration; IAC, Immunization Action Coalition; MMWR, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; NCIRD, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases; NIVS, National Influenza Vaccine Summit; VIS, Vaccine Information Statement; VPD, vaccine-preventable disease; WHO, World Health Organization.
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This website is supported in part by a cooperative agreement from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (Grant No. 6NH23IP22550) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. The website content is the sole responsibility of IAC and does not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.