The CDC reported in the latest MMWR that although the United States had declared measles eliminated in 2000, the importation of the disease from other countries remains a problem. Last year many US travelers brought back more than they had planned on…they had returned bearing measles. According to the CDC, 222 measles cases and 17 measles outbreaks were reported from 31 states last year, more than four times the usual number. US residents coming into contact with infected people overseas and international visitors bringing the disease with them to the United States account for the rise in reported cases. Where we get into trouble is then those infected people cross paths with susceptible, unimmunized people.
The mean age of the patients with measles in 2011 was 14 years, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Of the 222 reported cases, 196 were US residents. Almost half of last year’s measles importations were traced to Europe, the researchers wrote.
The CDC attributes measles elimination in the United States more than a decade ago to “high [measles-mumps-rubella] vaccination coverage” and population immunity. The CDC recommends that US citizens should get vaccinated, especially before traveling overseas, and parents should always get their children vaccinated. The CDC also encouraged health care providers to remain vigilant, pointing out that misdiagnoses and delayed reporting resulted in additional measles cases in 2011.
According to the CDC, the last fatal measles cases in the United States occurred between 2001 and 2008, two of which involved a 13-year-old boy and 75-year-old international traveler.
CDC MMWR April 20, 2012 / Vol. 61 / No. 15 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_wk.html