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- The ARC - California Edition -

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Measles in U.S. at All Time Low

Other Parts of World Still Problem

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)


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