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Measles Health Advisory

June 23rd, 2011

The United States is experiencing a high number of reported measles cases in 2011, many of which were acquired during international travel. From January 1 through June 17 this year, 156 confirmed cases of measles were reported to CDC.

This is the highest reported number since 1996. Most cases (136) were associated with importations from measles-endemic countries or countries where large outbreaks are occurring.  The imported cases involved 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 47% of the 156 cases. Of the total patients, 133 (85%) were unvaccinated or had undocumented vaccination status.  11 (8%) had received 1 dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 due to our high 2-dose measles vaccine coverage, but it is still endemic or large outbreaks are occurring in countries in Europe (including France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Switzerland), 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 the importance of prompt and appropriate public health response to measles
cases and outbreaks.

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.

Four Seasons Pediatrics follows the CDC recommendations.  These recommendations may affect you if you leave the United States and include the following:

For those who travel abroad, CDC recommends that all U.S. residents older than 6 months be protected from measles and receive MMR vaccine, prior to departure.
    –Infants 6 through 11 months old should receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine before departure. 
    –Children 12 months of age or older should have documentation of 2 doses of MMR vaccine (separated by at least 28 days).
    –Teenagers and adults should have documentation of 2 appropriately spaced doses of MMR vaccine.

Infants who receive a dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should receive 2 more doses of MMR vaccine,  the first of which should be administered when the child is 12 through 15 months of age and the second at least 28 days later.

Comment from Dr. Miller:

At the present time – for children not traveling abroad, there are no changes to the vaccine schedule posted on our website.   For children from 6 months to 15 months, who will be traveling abroad, we recommend getting one to two MMR immunizations as noted above.  These are new recommendations based upon the current outbreak.   This outbreak and the current outbreak of whooping cough highlight the need to have timely vaccination.   Our practice noted less people choosing to vaccinate in 2010.  Now more than ever, it is important to vaccinate, and to vaccinate in a timely basis.