HealthDay News — Measles is seeing a recurrence in the United States , despite vaccination efforts, according to the CDC .
Thus far in 2014, 129 people have been diagnosed with measles in 13 states as of April 18, the agency reported in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Most patients were not vaccinated. Although many of the measles cases are attributable to travel outside of the United States, measles infections spread rapidly among those too young to be vaccinated or those who choose to remain unvaccinated intentionally.
“Measles is still far too common in many parts of the world,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH in a press conference. “Globally, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 122,000 die from the disease each year.”
The CDC currently recommends two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for everyone, starting at age 12 months, whereas infants aged 6 through 11 months should receive one dose of MMR vaccine before traveling out of the country, according to the agency.
In 1994, a measles outbreak that infected more than 50,000 people and killed more than 100 patients was caused “largely by widespread failure to vaccinate uninsured children at the recommended age of 12 to 15 months,,” the CDC noted.
“This was a wake-up call and it impressed upon me how infectious measles is, because a single undiagnosed case in a hospital could result in dozens of secondary cases,” said Frieden.
A second report in the same issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlights the many benefits of the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, a national vaccination program founded in 1994 in response to that measles outbreak.
At a cost of $4 billion annually, the U.S. vaccination program is estimated to have saved more than $1.6 trillion in health-care costs since it’s inception – saving $295 billion in direct medical costs and $1.38 trillion in total societal costs.
The program is estimated to have prevented 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospital admissions and 730,000 early deaths, according to Frieden.
“This analysis demonstrates the large number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths prevented by childhood immunization,” CDC researchers wrote. “Although VFC has strengthened the U.S. immunization program, ongoing attention is needed to ensure that the program addresses challenges and incorporates methods that could improve delivery.”
- Zipprich J et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014; 63:362-363.
- Whitney CG et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014;63:352-355.