The once eradicated viral disease, measles, in the US (2000), has been witnessed rising again in numbers over the past several years.
15 cases of measles since Jan. 1 are confirmed compared to last year’s two measles cases, California health officials say.
On Feb. 21 in California, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the confirmed cases in California in a press conference.
Dr. Ron Chapman, state health officer and director of CDPH, no measles-related deaths have been reported.
During the past 20 years factors like high immunization rates have kept preventable childhood diseases, such as measles, at record lows. Since 2000, almost all measles cases in the United States have been associated with travel to areas of the world where measles still flows.
Among the California cases with onset in 2014, three had traveled to the Philippines, where a large outbreak is occurring, and two had traveled to India, where measles is endemic.
The present vaccine for measles is called the MMR as it immunizes against measles, mumps and rubella. MMRV vaccine that adds protection against varicella or chicken pox may also be offered by the physicians. The number of doses required for the greatest protection is two. One at 12 to 15 months of age and second at the age 4 to 6.
“Immunization is the best defense against measles, with 99 percent of persons developing immunity after two doses,” Chapman said in a statement. “With an outbreak in the Philippines and measles transmission ongoing in many parts of the world outside of North and South America, we can expect to see more imported cases of this vaccine-preventable disease.”
Unvaccinated people from Californian planning to travel outside of North or South America should receive the MMR vaccine before they go. Infants who are traveling can be vaccinated as young as six months of age.
Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.
Among the California cases with measles detected in 2014, three traveled to the Philippines, where a large outbreak is occurring in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, and two traveled to India, where measles is widespread, Chapman said.
At Crowne Hill Elementary School in Temecula, two more students have been diagnosed with measles.
California is one of 22 states that permit parents to let off children from immunizations based upon a philosophical opposition or individual belief. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2012 shows that 9.3 percent of California teens did not receive the full course of two MMR immunizations. In children under age three, the CDC found that 8.5 percent had not received the single recommended MMR immunization for that age group.