Measles: Encore Appearance in Vermont and Utah
Jun 22, 2011
For the past few weeks, I have written several posts detailing measles outbreaks across the country and there has been quite a bit of coverage in the news regarding measles these days.
Liz Szabo, of USA Today, recently wrote a detailed piece discussing the return of childhood diseases as a result of vaccine refusal. Yesterday, Discover Magazine’s Bad Astronomy blog referenced that article in a headline that read “Confirmed measles cases in US tops 150“.
“That’s twice as many cases as usually seen in a year, and it’s only June.”
So this week, we are seeing an encore appearance of measles in Vermont and Utah?
Three weeks ago lab tests confirmed an unvaccinated adult in southeastern Vermont had the first case of measles in the state in 10 years. Then, last Sunday the East Barre Fire Department had it’s annual barbecue and it’s suspected that it was another possible exposure site for measles. With over 100 people in attendance, and some of them children, there is obvious concern that this contagious disease may continue to spread.
A recent measles outbreak in northern Utah has now spread to a county in the central part of the state. The infected patient happens to be a Millard County resident who tested positive for measles last week. According to the Central Utah Public Health Department, this is the first confirmed case in the area for many years. Since the individual worked at a power plant with hundreds of employees and contractors, many workers who have not been able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated against measles, are being asked to stay home from work.
Global Measles Eradication Initiative
What bothers me the most about these outbreaks here in the US is that we really should have a handle on this. In others areas of the world, where vaccines are not as readily available, I can understand the challenge in eradicating measles. But why is this still an issue here in the US?
Sadly, I already know the answer to this question. Measles is a highly contagious disease and despite low numbers of outbreaks in the US, it remains a simple plane ride away. As long as we have people who are unvaccinated, or under-vaccinated, for measles in the US, there will continue to be incidence of transmission. That is why it is important for us to be cognizant of the global impact of disease.
So, while global health leaders are issuing a call to action for measles eradication in this Pediatric Supersite article, we are left to worry about our unprotected and susceptible young children. Any child under one year of age is too young to be vaccinated against measles and so they rely on the actions of others to put an end to this vaccine preventable disease.
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