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CDC: Measles Cases Highest Since 1996

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Friday, August 22, 2008 10:50 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Measles, Mumps, Thimerosal, Public Health, Protecting Your Family


IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons /classic case of measles/ author: CDC/NIP/Barbara Rice

The number of measles cases in the U.S. has reached its highest level since 1996, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

131 cases of measles were reported between January-July 2008, compared to an average of 63 cases per year from 2000- 2007, according to the CDC.

Most cases involve parents who opted against vaccinating their child for religious or philosophical reasons or because they believe the vaccination may cause autism or other health related problems.

No deaths have been reported, but more than 15 patients, including 4 children – 15 months of age or younger, has required hospitalization.

Measles is a contagious disease that can be fatal. The MMR vaccine is the safest protection you can give your child against measles, recommends the CDC.

When comparing this year’s measles cases with years prior, in some instances the numbers have doubled, tripled and in some quadrupled:

» (42) Measles Cases in 2007

» (55) Measles Cases in 2006

» (66) Measles Cases in 2005

» (37) Measles Cases in 2004

» (56) Measles Cases in 2003

» (44) Measles Cases in 2002

“The numbers are climbing and the disease is spreading. This concerns us,” Dr. Jane Seward of the CDC’s division of viral diseases said.

Another federal report released in April found, one in four children fails to comply with official vaccination recommendations because of missed vaccine doses or lapses in vaccinations.

We are concerned about the population of people that opt against vaccinations and whether we may be on the verge of facing a larger-scale epidemic in the United States, said Seward.

Measles vaccine became available in the U.S. in 1963. Before that there were three to four million cases in the U.S. every year which also killed 400-500 children.

The United States typically sees one measles outbreak each year, infecting about 10 to 20 people. So far, through July 30, the country has seen seven outbreaks which include one in Illinois with 30 cases.

The Academy of Pediatrics is spending more time educating parents about the safety of vaccinations this year. In part, because pediatricians are frustrated, saying they are spending a good deal of time convincing parents the vaccine is safe.

A big concern for most parents is the alleged risk of autism linked to a mercury-based preservative that used to be in most vaccines.

Today the measles vaccine is contained in the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and had reportedly never contained thimerosal, linked to autism. Parents can check with the Institute on Vaccine Safety to keep updated on both sides of the issue. #

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