Measles Weasles Its Way Back

January 9, 2015

The number of measles cases has hit an all time high since it was declared to be eliminated in the US back in 2000. Here's why.

While most Americans were worrying about Ebola and norovirus and the flu this past year, measles was making a comeback. In fact, the number of measles cases in the US at the end of 2014 was at a 14-year high.

The CDC reports that from January through November of 2014, 610 cases had been reported in 24 states in 20 separate outbreaks  (Figure). That’s the greatest number of cases of this infection the country has seen since 2000, the year measles was officially declared to have been eliminated.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"30871","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","id":"media_crop_1429891406639","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3250","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]][[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"30866","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","id":"media_crop_9637669313324","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3246","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a generalized, maculopapular, erythematous rash. This is the skin of a patient after 3 days of measles infection.

Why the resurgence? According to the CDC:

  • The majority of the people who got measles are unvaccinated.
  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
  • Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the US.
  • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the US where groups of people are unvaccinated.

Recommended immunization schedules for people from 0 to 18 years of age can be seen here.