Measles in U.S. at All Time Low
Other Parts of World Still
In the spring of 1999, a relatively large number of measles cases were being
routinely reported in the Netherlands. During a few months, there were 3,000
cases of measles reported in this country that has population of less than
16,000,000 (an incidence of 1 case per 5,333 residents).
These cases have been linked to a few children attending a single school where
most of the students had chosen for religious reasons not to be vaccinated. In
each of five major incidence reports, the description for the source indicated
that all of the patients had been students which were attending the same school.
This observation resulted in the Netherlands Health Service assembling a
research team “to investigate this entire cluster”. This team discovered
that the reports were just the tip of a public health iceberg in their country.
During the same period of time here in the U.S., we had been experiencing our
second straight year of record low measles cases. In the past two years, 1998
and 1999, we ended each year with exactly 100 cases of measles (population of
250,000,000). Here, measles cases have continually declined since 1990. That was
a year when 27,786 cases were reported during what turned out to be the peak of
a resurgence of measles.
After two years of very low measles incidence (1 case per 2,500,000 citizens),
the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the reason
that the United States had these record low incidence numbers is because we have
a system which results in a very high rate of measles vaccine coverage.
Two-thirds of last year’s measles cases have been linked by CDC to imported
cases. These source cases were 14 imported measles that originated among
international visitors, and 19 US citizens who had caught the disease following
an exposure to measles while visiting a foreign country.
CDC health officials consider that the other one-third of measles cases reported
here during the year 1999 were probably also imported, but for those cases, they
have been unable to identify the specific source.
Studies in the United States have shown that an unvaccinated child is 35 times
more likely to developing measles that the normal risk of catching the disease.
Most of our US residents get themselves and their children vaccinated (over 98%)
in order to prevent any brain damage that may result from being afflicted by
some serious disease.
Conversely, very few of our US residents exercise their “legal right” to
exercise a path which may bypass these laws which recommend that everyone obtain
vaccinations for childhood disease.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices recommend that children get one dose of
measles-mumps-rubella vaccine at age 12 to 15 months and a second dose between
the ages of 4 and 6 or between ages 11 and 12.
(Measles – United States, 1999; MMWR)