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Measles Making a Comeback

The number of cases and outbreaks have almost quadrupled in the United States in 2011. Normally there have been about 60 cases a year and 4 outbreaks a year over the past decade. Most of these cases have been in patients whose parents opted out in vaccinating their child or teenager.

In Europe, vaccine refusal is more common. Consequently there were more than 37,000 cases of measles last year. Most of the cases were in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Romania. 90% of the cases in the U.S. were linked to travel to a foreign country or contact with a foreigner from another country.

To illustrate how quickly a measles epidemic can grow, France had low measles rates of 40 cases a year a few years ago. By 2008, the cases jumped to over 600, by 2010 the number went over 6,000, and in 2011 there were over 15,000 cases.

Currently the U.S. has relatively high measles vaccination rates but because of foreign travel, measles can gain a foothold and create pockets of outbreaks. Measles is extremely contagious and the virus can remain in a room even if the carrier leaves the room. The symptoms of measles are fever, rash, cough and can develop into bronchitis, pneumonia, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and even death.

It is important to note that there are no credible studies to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The original study that associated MMR to autism was shown to be based on falsified data and has been retracted by the British Medical Journal. Because of this scandal the physician researcher was stripped of his medical license. Unfortunately the research sparked a the anti-vaccine movement that have resulted in thousands of patients contracting preventable diseases such as measles.