CDC: Wake-up call for Vaccination; measles cases in U.S. hit 20-year high

Aileen M. Marty, M.D.
Director, FIU Health Travel Medicine Program

VaccinationNearly 300 cases and climbing! That’s the word from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which says we’ve seen more cases of measles so far this year than in the first five months of any year since 1994.

As of May 23, 288 measles cases have been reported in 18 states. CDC officials say 97% of those cases began with an infection abroad. “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 Anne Schuchat, M.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.

Dr. Schuchat called this a “wake-up call for travelers and for parents to make sure vaccination records are up to date”.

It’s perfect timing for such a wake-up call. The CDC is sounding the alarm just as schools are about to let out for summer vacation and the summer travel season kicks into high gear.

Prior to 1963, when the measles vaccine became available, more than half a million American children and adults became sick; 50,000 people were hospitalized with encephalitis, pneumonia or both, and nearly 500 people died each year.

June 2, 2014