Thursday, September 22, 2011


California leads U.S. in measles cases:

California has outpaced every other state this year, with 28 reported cases. Most of the patients were unvaccinated or likely to lack the vaccination, health officials say.

By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times |


The number of unvaccinated children has grown over the last decade, partly because of parent fears of a link between the shots and autism, a theory repeatedly disproved in scientific literature. (Los Angeles Times)

September 22, 2011 - As more parents forgo measles vaccinations for their children, the number of Californians contracting the highly contagious disease has reached a 10-year high, outpacing every other state in the nation.

As of Monday, there were 28 reported cases of measles so far in 2011 — the largest statewide figure reported, according to state and federal health officials. That is the highest incidence since 2001, when 40 people in California reported having measles. There were nine cases in all of 2009 and 27 cases in 2010.

Of the cases reported this year, 22 of the 28 either were unvaccinated or very likely to lack the vaccine, according to the California Department of Public Health. More than half had recently traveled internationally, including to Asia and Europe, which have seen a drop in immunizations and widespread outbreaks.

Measles, transmitted through coughing and sneezing, can cause ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea, brain injuries and death. Cases can quickly spread in schools and communities, especially in areas with a high concentration of unvaccinated children, officials said.

"We are quite concerned in California," said Gil Chavez, deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the state Department of Public Health. "Even one single case that is acquired overseas can expose a lot of individuals."

Cases are also on the rise around the nation. In 2011, 211 people were diagnosed with measles — the highest number in 15 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many contracted it abroad, and about 85% were unvaccinated or had undocumented vaccination status.

The disease was eliminated in the United States in 2000. But those traveling outside the country often don't realize the danger of exposure, said Preeta Kutty, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC.

"We are working very hard to make sure the disease does not spread," Kutty said. Those going abroad "need to be aware of the disease and be up to date with their vaccine."

The two-dose vaccine, introduced in 1963, is available for free for those who cannot afford it.

The number of unvaccinated children has grown over the last decade, partly because of parent fears of a link between the shots and autism, a theory repeatedly disproved in scientific literature. To opt out of the vaccine, parents simply fill out a form.

Seven of this year's measles cases were in Los Angeles County, four in San Diego County and three in Mendocino and Santa Clara counties, with the remainder scattered over several other counties, according to the state.

The rising number of cases should be a "wake-up call to make sure we are keeping that vaccine guard up," said Robert Kim-Farley, director of communicable disease control and prevention for Los Angeles County. County health officials are working to counter myths about measles vaccinations and autism, he said.

"In the developing world, parents clamor for these vaccines," he said. "It's only in the developed world that we have seen this complacency of vaccination set in."

Outbreaks can occur when just 5% to 10% of a population are not vaccinated, according to the CDC. In California last year, 11,500 kindergartners started school with vaccine exemptions, up from 8,300 in 2007. In Los Angeles Unified School District, 30% of kindergartners at Topanga Elementary Charter School began school without shots, as did 43% at Ocean Charter School.

In some schools around the state, the rates of unvaccinated children are even higher. For example, 84% of kindergartners at Yuba River Charter School in Nevada City and 63% of kindergartners at San Geronimo Valley Elementary School in Marin County started school without getting their shots.

Chavez said there was a risky trend of families skipping the vaccine at certain schools. "When you have a kid that is infected and attends school where you have a large number of unimmunized children, that can provide a very dangerous mix," he said.

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    State reports 10-year high in measles cases

    Associated Press | From the San Jose mercury News |

    9/21/2011 03:56:14 PM PDT - LOS ANGELES -- State health officials say there have been 28 cases of measles reported in California this year, a 10-year high in the number of cases.

    State health department spokesman Ralph Montano says of the 28 cases reported, 16 people reported recent international travel before getting the highly contagious illness.

    Montano says there have been recent outbreaks of measles in Europe and Southeast Asia, and that's what's believed to be contributing to the jump in California's statistics.

    Of the 28 cases of measles reported this year, Montano says 22 people were either unvaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown.

    Symptoms of measles begin with fever, followed by cough, runny nose and pink eye before the tell-tale rash sets in.


    California Department of Public Health measles information


    Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It begins with a fever that lasts for a couple of days, followed by a cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Infected people are usually contagious from about 4 days before their rash starts to 4 days afterwards.
    Most infants born in the United States will receive passive protection against measles, mumps, and rubella in the form of antibodies from their mothers. These antibodies can destroy the vaccine virus if they are present when the vaccine is administered and cause it to be ineffective. By 12 months of age, almost all infants have lost this passive protection.

    Children should get their first dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine at 12 months old or later. The second dose of MMR is usually administered before the child begins kindergarten, but may be given one month or more after the first dose.
    Students (including college students), health care workers, and international travelers should receive two doses of MMR vaccine.


    Measles FAQs

    Disease and vaccine information.

    Measles Images

    Color images from the Centers for Disease Control.

    Information for Health Professionals

    CDPH Measles Investigation Quick Sheet (PDF, New Window)

    Concise guide for local health department disease investigation of measles.

    CDPH Measles Health Flyer Letter for Emergency Rooms (PDF, New Window)

    A letter for healthcare workers in emergency rooms about how to use the Measles alert flyer.

    CDC Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Measles Chapter

    Information about measles including laboratory testing, surveillance and outbreak control.

    ACIP Recommendations for the MMR Vaccine

    Vaccine use and strategies for measles elimination.

    Blood Specimen Collection Using Capillary Tubes (PDF, New Window)

    Instructions on collecting a blood specimen for testing using capillary tubes.

    Measles Specimen Collection Using Capillary Tubes (PDF, New Window)

    Poster presented at American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting after Measles outbreak in San Diego, 2008.

    CDPH HC Facility Infection Control for Suspect Measles Patients (PDF, New Window)

    Measles Infection Control in Health Care Facilities.

    CDPH Measles Laboratory Testing (PDF, New Window)

    Specimen collection and laboratory test interpretation.

    Data and Surveillance

    Measles (Rubeola) Case Report Form (PDF, New Window)

    Vaccine Preventable Disease Reports

    The Immunization Branch collects and publishes information on vaccine-preventable diseases in California. This page includes the most recent reports as well as information on when and how to report VPD cases.


    Measles Case Report Form

    Prevention and Control

    CDPH Measles Health Advisory (PDF, New Window)

    Measles Patient Illness Alert Flyer (PDF, New Window)

    CDPH Measles Travel Advisory Flyer (PDF, New Window)

    CDPH Measles Health Alert Flyer (PDF, New Window)

    Recent measles outbreaks in California have originated from returning international travelers. Please display this flyer in Emergency Departments and outpatient clinics to remind clinicians to act immediately if measles is suspected in a patient.

    MMR Vaccine Information Statement (PDF, New Window)


    Immunization Branch, California Dept. of Public Health

    Measles - CDC Pink Book (PDF, New Window)

    A twenty page document with information about the disease and vaccine.

    CDC Vaccine Preventable Diseases

    A large collection of Web pages about the prevention of communicable diseases.

    Español (Spanish)

    Vacunas Y Mi Salud (New Window)

    Casos de Sarampión Aumentan en California

    Sarampión INFO

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