SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

May 30, 2014

Measles outbreaks hit 20-year high

NEW YORK — Measles cases are accelerating, and in the last five months have caused more U.S. illnesses than in any entire year since 1996.

Health officials say 307 cases have been reported since New Year’s Day. About half have been in the past month — most from a huge outbreak in unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio.

That’s a blistering start, even before the customary spurt of cases seen in the late spring and summer, health officials noted.

“Measles has reached a 20-year high. This is not the kind of record we want to break,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC released the latest numbers yesterday during a news conference.

Nearly all the cases have been linked to travelers who caught the virus abroad and spread it in the United States among unvaccinated people. Many of the travelers had been to the Philippines, where a recent measles epidemic has caused more than 30,000 illnesses.

Most of the unvaccinated skipped shots for personal or philosophical reasons, Schuchat said.

About half of those who got sick have been adults 20 or older. At least 43 people were hospitalized with measles complications — mainly pneumonia. There have been no deaths.

No measles deaths have been reported in the U.S. since 2003.

The measles virus is highly contagious, spreading easily through the air and in closed rooms. Infected droplets can linger for up to two hours after the sick person leaves.

It causes a fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. In rare cases, measles can be deadly, and is particularly dangerous for children.

Before a vaccine became available about 50 years ago, nearly all children got measles by their 15th birthday — that’s hundreds of thousands of cases annually. In those days, nearly 500 Americans died from measles each year.

According to CDC records, the last time the nation saw this many cases in an entire year was 1996, when 508 were reported.

The last time this many cases was reported this early in the year was 1994, when 764 cases occurred in the first five months. The end-of-year tally turned out to be 963.

Schuchat encouraged doctors to be on the lookout for measles, and urged the public to be fully vaccinated — especially before traveling overseas.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Fight brewing over Salem State garage

    SALEM -- Salem State's plans for a new parking garage are encountering resistance from people who live near the proposed site and say the structure will shrink nearby property values, create traffic problems and have other detrimental effects. Opposi

    August 21, 2014 3 Stories

  • bozo Last laugh BEVERLY -- When it comes to famous clients, it's tough to top Oprah. But to baby boomers of a certain age, Bozo the Clown might qualify as a pretty good second act. Kaminski Auctions, the Beverly company that sold off Oprah Winfrey items last year, i

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140813_SN_DLE_COPAA1 ‘Limbitless possibilities’: Amputees find solace with new support group

    Those in a new support group for amputees say overcoming the emotional trauma of losing a limb can be tougher to overcome than the physical battle of healing and learning to use a prosthetic. "When you lose a limb, you go through physical changes, bu

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Margo Danvers cyclist conquers Mount Washington in honor of biking friends killed by motorist

    DANVERS -- Margo Heigh of Danvers braved the cold, wind and steep grades to ride up Mt. Washington on her bike in Saturday's 42nd annual Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. She did so to honor the memory of two cycling friends killed last y

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Extended day at Collins to offer variety of enrichment classes SALEM -- This school year, students at Collins Middle School will be able to end their day studying robotics, karate, journalism, music, flag football or any of the other 32 enrichment courses that have been added to the curriculum. A block of time e

    August 21, 2014