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Entries in Measles (3)

Thursday
Feb092012

Indiana Officials Warn of Measles Cases After Super Bowl

Win McNamee/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- A person who visited the Super Bowl village in downtown Indianapolis last Friday was infected with measles, according to Indiana health officials, who also confirmed a second case of the highly infectious virus.

Health officials learned of two additional probable cases in the state, according to Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Larkin, who added that health departments around the country have been alerted to be aware of the possible spread of the disease.

On Friday, about 200,000 people visited the Super Bowl village, a festival for Super Bowl fans to buy memorabilia, eat and play games, according to the Super Bowl host committee.

Neither of the patients with confirmed cases of measles reportedly attended the game Sunday.

While health officials said they were not yet bracing for a widespread outbreak, they wanted to make the public aware of the recent cases so that if any new infections emerge, they will be quickly identified, treated and confined.

"Even though measles has been declared eliminated in the U.S., it circulates globally, and when we get an importation or somebody gets it while traveling, there is potential for cases to spread," said Dr. Greg Wallace, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Viral Diseases. "The vast majority of measles cases we see are in people who are unvaccinated."

Measles cases in the U.S. have increased. The country saw its highest number of cases in 15 years in 2011, when 220 Americans contracted the illness.

While those who have been vaccinated for the virus will likely remain unaffected, experts said babies younger than 1, pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system who attended the event should seek medical care as a precaution.

Measles spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms, which include cough, fever, sore throat and a tell-tale rash, begin about eight to 12 days after exposure to the virus. About 30 percent of people who contract measles experience complications, including bronchitis, ear infection, permanent hearing loss, pneumonia and even death.

There is no treatment once measles is contracted, but the vaccine is 95- to 99-percent effective in preventing the illness, said Wallace. Those who are not vaccinated are at high risk of developing the disease, but Americans born before 1957 are often considered immune to measles because it once ran so rampantly throughout the country. Most are likely to have already had the viral infection, according to the CDC.

The measles vaccine may prevent infection when given within 72 hours of exposure, according to experts, so anyone unvaccinated who fears they have been exposed should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

"There's no way for us to possibly track down and contact everybody who may have been at a big public event like this, so we're hoping media alerts will heighten awareness," said Wallace. "At the very least, this is a good opportunity to remind people to make sure they are up to date on their immunizations and remind parents to get their children vaccinated."

States are required to report all measles cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Little information has been made public about the measles cases in Indiana, such as where and when they might have contracted the virus.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun152011

Docs Find Rise in Measles Cases a 'Tragedy'

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- For many doctors, reports by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing the largest increase in measles cases in almost 20 years is troubling but not surprising.

"This is a tragedy," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Only six months into the calendar year, 152 Americans have already been diagnosed with measles -- double the average number of cases in a half-year, and the largest outbreak in nearly two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thirty-five percent of the patients were hospitalized, and nine cases progressed to pneumonia, according to the CDC.

Signs of measles, a highly contagious viral respiratory disease, can easily be confused with the common cold. The disease progresses quickly and can lead to fatal complications.

Most who were diagnosed were not vaccinated against the disease, the CDC said. The combination measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is the strongest protection not only for those who get the shot, but also those who are immunocompromised, thus vulnerable to the disease and unable to receive the vaccine, said Dr. Larry Givner, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The first dose of the combination MMR vaccine is given to children 12 to 15 months old, according to CDC recommendations. The second dose is usually given before the start of kindergarten to ensure that a child has developed immunity.

The MMR vaccine has contributed to a 99-percent reduction in cases in the U.S.

The spike in reported measles cases comes on the heels of a survey released in early June by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Program Office that showed that nearly 80 percent of parents are uncomfortable about having their children vaccinated in general, not just against the measles.

While many of the parents are simply queasy about the needle, their concerns include doubts about the safety of vaccines, the number of vaccines their children receive, and the persistent worries that the vaccines are to be blamed for disabilities like autism, the study said.

Despite their concerns, at least 95 percent of parents have their children vaccinated while only five percent skip some of the vaccines. Only two percent say they would avoid vaccines altogether.

Parental uncertainty over vaccinations means there is a continuing need for reassurance and education about the necessity of getting kids immunized, the CDC said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr112011

CDC to Travelers: Vaccinate Young Children Early Against Measles

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Although most people think of measles as a pimply plague of the past, U.S. families traveling or living abroad should take extra precautions because of increasing cases among residents returning from Europe, Africa and Asia.

U.S. infants and toddlers spending time overseas should be vaccinated earlier than those living in this country, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Friday as part of a report on cases imported by tiny travelers.  Young children are more vulnerable to severe measles infections and at greater risk of death or encephalitis, a dangerous brain inflammation.

Before heading overseas, U.S. children aged six to 11 months should receive one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, while those at least one year old should receive two doses spaced at least 28 days apart.  That compares with the general recommendation to give the first dose at 12-15 months, and a second before starting kindergarten.

The CDC since 1989 has advised accelerating measles vaccinations for youngsters headed to regions with known outbreaks, although it's unclear how many parents have heeded the guidance.

The latest public health warning about "imported cases" might surprise parents and some doctors, as measles largely has fallen off the U.S. radar screen since 2000, when it was declared eliminated within our borders.

More worrisome to U.S. moms and dads might be news that measles has been on the upswing in such developed countries as Great Britain, Switzerland, France and Spain.  According to the CDC, 39 percent of U.S. measles imports in 2005-2008 originated in Europe.

"Despite the fact that it's been in the news in Europe, we believe that people in the United States are largely unaware that there is measles in Europe," Dr. Gregory L. Armstrong, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC in Atlanta, said in an interview Friday.

In 1994, health officials pronounced measles gone from the United Kingdom, only to declare it endemic again in 2008 because of falling immunization levels, he said.  Cases have been increasing in France, Switzerland, and lately in Spain.

"By and large, these cases are occurring in people who are born in those countries and who are philosophically opposed to vaccination," Armstrong said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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