Measles Cases So Far This Year Show Sign Of Disturbing Trend
"This is not a problem with the measles vaccine not working. … This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used." (Photo: Getty Images)
From 2001 to 2011,there was a median of 62 measles cases each year, according to government health data. But in 2014, the number of measles cases inflated to 644 cases — a record high.
Looking at a graph of the stats, this figure looks like it should be a fluke.
But as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tacks 18 more official cases onto its official 2015 tally, its clear that its not — and that the trend is only continuing.
This year, amidst the Disney outbreak, there have already been 102 confirmed cases of the measles — one sixth of last year’s total — showing 2014’s number might not be an outlier. If the trend continues, the country may have a real problem on its hands; measles may reestablish footholds in regions where it once was eradicated.
Related: California Measles Outbreak Shows How Quickly Disease Can Resurface in U.S.
This will also give rise to more heated debate on whether vaccinations should be a choice, as experts strongly insist shots are safe. “This is not a problem with the measles vaccine not working,” Anne Schuchat, MD, assistant surgeon general and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, tells CNN. “This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used.”
And when the vaccine is not used, others are put at risk, like a California infant who recently contracted measles. The child is under age 1 — and, therefore, most vulnerable to the condition since the first measles shot generally isn’t administered until 12 to 15 months of age.
This particular case has prompted the shutdown of a daycare center until Thursday, and has sent 14 additional unvaccinated babies into a three-week quarantine. Before returning, toddlers will have to show proof of vaccination.
Gail Pinsker, a spokeswoman for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, of which the daycare center is a part, encouraged people to take these warnings seriously. “There is concern in the community over this. This is a concerning disease,” she tells Reuters. “Over the last couple weeks we’ve encouraged families to get students immunized.”
Related: 4 Major Reasons Doctors Are So Scared of Measles
Preventing measles at the community level, such as in Santa Monica, should be a major focus, according to CNN. The CDC says its statistics show that many who choose not to vaccinate live in the same areas. When this happens, outbreaks become more likely to happen, and it becomes more difficult to contain the spread of the virus.
Schuchat is adamant that it’s not a debate anymore. The growing number of measles cases in 2015 is clear evidence that the once-eliminated disease is now a major health concern. “This worries me and I want to do everything possible to prevent measles from getting a foothold in the United States and becoming endemic again,” she tells CNN.
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