Big Measles Outbreaks Worry Federal Health Officials | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Big Measles Outbreaks Worry Federal Health Officials

Federal health officials are worried about an unusually high number of measles cases occurring in the United States this year.

There have been at least eight outbreaks so far this year involving 159 cases, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

About 60 people get measles in the United States each year on average, the CDC says. Since measles stopped circulating in this country in 2000, the highest number of cases occurred in 2008, when 140 Americans got measles, and 2011, when 220 cases were reported.

The CDC is worried because measles is highly contagious and can be life-threatening. So far no one has died from the measles this year, but 17 people were hospitalized, according to the CDC.

"The increase in measles cases in the United States in 2013 serves as a reminder that imported measles cases can result in large outbreaks, particularly if introduced into areas with pockets of unvaccinated persons," researchers wrote.

All of the outbreaks were sparked by someone who was infected in another country, usually somewhere in Europe, brought the virus to the United States and exposed people who hadn't been vaccinated.

"In some communities, people have been rejecting opportunities to be vaccinated," Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters during a briefing.

"With measles, things can change very quickly," Schuchat said. "We need to stay ahead of this virus."

The largest outbreak, which involved at least 58 people, occurred in March among Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, N.Y., after an unvaccinated teenager infected with measles returned from visiting Britain. That was the largest measles outbreak in the United States since 1996.

The second-largest outbreak, which involved at least 23 cases, occurred in April in North Carolina, mostly among people who had not been vaccinated because of religious objections, the CDC said. That apparently started after someone returned from a three-month visit to India.

Overall, 18 of the cases that have occurred so far this year were among children younger than a year old, while 40 people were between the ages of 1 and 4, 58 were among those ages 5 to 19, and 43 were 20 or older, according to the CDC.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Speed Dating For Seniors Who Aren't Interested In Slowing Down

A new film follows daters ages 70 to 90 looking for love in five-minute intervals. "Speed dating for seniors" may sound funny, but The Age of Love is really about our lifelong need for intimacy.
NPR

Eat Your Veggies! Even The Ones From Fukushima

Foods from Fukushima, Japan, are back to pre-accident levels of radiation but people still aren't eating them. One way to ease concerns: a chemical that blocks radioactive cesium from entering plants.
NPR

House Panel Questions Gen. Campbell About Readiness Of Afghan Force

Congress wants to know whether the U.S. military tried to hide problems with the Afghan military force. Afghans are leading the fight against the Taliban — with U.S. troops mostly in the background.
NPR

Sharing Patient Records Is Still A Digital Dilemma For Doctors

There's good news and bad news about electronic medical records. They're now in most doctors' offices — but most doctors still can't easily share them.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.