Measles Protection Important for Everyone
Friday, June 01, 2012 | 01:52pm
Vaccination has Eradicated Measles in United States
NASHVILLE − The Department of Health is reminding Tennesseans of the need for vaccination against measles. Although measles was officially eliminated from the United States in 2000 as the result of high vaccination rates, it is still present in other regions of the world. A small number of cases continue to occur among Americans who have traveled abroad or come into contact with someone returning from foreign travel. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 15-year high in the number of measles cases in the U.S.
“These disease risks are still out there and we should not let down our guard about measles or any other vaccine preventable disease,” said Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Vaccines save lives, and reports of measles cases in the United States serve as a reminder of the importance of immunization as a vital preventive health measure.”
TDH has been notified of a case of measles in an adult patient who resides in Arkansas. The patient had recently traveled to India, where she was likely exposed, and traveled through middle Tennessee. TDH is conducting a standard contact investigation to follow up with anyone with whom the patient has come into close contact and therefore may be at risk of contracting measles, and is coordinating with health officials in Arkansas in this effort. There is no concern about widespread public risk of contracting measles from this patient, and anyone who has been vaccinated is protected against the illness.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is preventable with vaccine. It causes a high fever, cough and conjunctivitis, or “pinkeye”, followed by a rash on the head that spreads down the body. Measles can cause serious complications, like pneumonia, and is sometimes fatal.
The measles vaccine, as part of the measles-mumps-rubella or “MMR” vaccine, is now routinely given to all American children after the first birthday and again before Kindergarten. MMR vaccine is required to attend daycare or school in Tennessee, and immunization rates among Tennessee children are among the highest in the country. Most adults born before 1957 are immune because they had measles as children; however, a booster MMR vaccination is still recommended for this group for travel outside the U.S. where the risk of coming into contact with someone who has measles is higher.
International travelers of all ages should be up to date with their vaccinations. Anyone unsure of their vaccination history should ask their medical provider about getting a dose of MMR vaccine before traveling. Information on immunizations for travelers is available online at www.cdc.gov/Features/TravelProtection/. For general information about vaccines, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines.