Measles outbreak shaping up to be worst in 17 years

Posted Sep 13, 2013 by Andrew Ellis
If you're refusing to get your kids vaccinated, then you could be part of the key factor in the rising number of measles cases this year.
A 7-year-old boy displays the rash typical of measles infection.
A 7-year-old boy displays the rash typical of measles infection.
AAP Red Book Online Visual Library
According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), there have been 159 reported cases of measles between January 1 and August 24. They said that if that continues to increase then 2013 will have had more cases since 1996, which had 500. The number would also pass the 222 cases in 2011.
According to, measles is a disease of the respiratory system which is caused by a virus that spreads through breathing, coughing, and sneezing. It causes a serious rash and fever. It's harder to come by in the United States, says the CDC, however they added that it's still an international health problem that Americans can get if it's brought over to the states.
Dr. Roya Samuels, a pediatrician at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, N.Y., told via email that measles can also bring on serious complications like ear infections, pneumonia, and brain swelling. It can also result in encephalitis, which happens to about one out of every 1,000 cases and can lead to death.
According to NPR, the outbreaks were started by an individual who got infected when they were in another country, usually in Europe. They then brought the virus over to the States and exposed people who didn't have the correct vaccination.
According to, Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a briefing that:
“In some communities, people have been rejecting opportunities to be vaccinated.”
Dr. Schuchat added that the reason a lot of these people have decided against getting the vaccination has to do with religious beliefs — 79 percent, to be exact. That's out of 82 percent who were not vaccinated, and there was another 9 percent who had no idea of their vaccination status. Other clusters included those with large extended families and school districts where vaccine rates are low. She stressed that measles is an extraordinarily contagious virus.
Schuchat added that, fortunately, no one has died yet.
Another possible influence is a link, now disputed, that autism can be developed from vaccines. Schuchat told doctors and pediatricians who have close relationships with these families that believe this to do their best to convince them there is no such link.
Another fear is that younger physicians might not be able to quickly recognize signs of measles, because there haven't been too many cases since 2000, Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University who was on a telephone briefing with the CDC, told CNN.
CNN said that since babies can't be vaccinated until their first birthday the ones who choose not to vaccinate put everyone else's babies at risk.
Creech added,
“I hope that those who are vaccine hesitant or vaccine avoidant realize that are serious consequences to their actions. None of us lives in isolation.”
The full report can be found in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).