Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 3:39 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Officials: Measles tally doubled in the past month

Measles cases are accelerating, and in the last five months have caused more U.S. illnesses than in any entire year since 1996.


AP Medical Writer

advertising

NEW YORK —

Measles cases are accelerating, and in the last five months have caused more U.S. illnesses than in any entire year since 1996.

Health officials say 307 cases have been reported since New Year's Day. About half have been in the past month -- most from a huge outbreak in unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio.

That's a blistering start, even before the customary spurt of cases seen in the late spring and summer, health officials noted.

"Measles has reached a 20-year high. This is not the kind of record we want to break," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC released the latest numbers Thursday during a news conference.

Nearly all the cases have been linked to travelers who caught the virus abroad and spread it in the United States among unvaccinated people. Many of the travelers had been to the Philippines, where a recent measles epidemic has caused more than 30,000 illnesses.

Most of the unvaccinated skipped shots for personal or philosophical reasons, Schuchat said.

About half of those who got sick have been adults 20 or older. At least 43people were hospitalized with measles complications -- mainly pneumonia. There have been no deaths.

No measles deaths have been reported in the U.S. since 2003.

The measles virus is highly contagious, spreading easily through the air and in closed rooms. Infected droplets can linger for up to two hours after the sick person leaves.

It causes a fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. In rare cases, measles can be deadly, and is particularly dangerous for children. Infection can also cause pregnant women to have a miscarriage or premature birth.

Before a vaccine became available about 50 years ago, nearly all children got measles by their 15th birthday -- that's hundreds of thousands of cases annually. In those days, nearly 500 Americans died from measles each year.

According to CDC records, the last time the nation saw this many cases in an entire year was 1996, when 508 were reported.

The last time this many cases was reported this early in the year was 1994, when 764 cases occurred in the first five months. The end-of-year tally turned out to be 963.

Schuchat encouraged doctors to be on the lookout for measles, and urged the public to be fully vaccinated -- especially before traveling overseas.

___

Online:

CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►