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Measles in the United States

01 May 2012

The number of measles outbreaks reported last year (2011) in the United States (US) was more than 4 times higher than normal, with 222 individuals from 31 states contracting the infectious disease. In 2011, the highest number of measles cases were recorded since 1996, when 508 cases were reported. Health officials consider the increase in measles infection relates to two factors: disease importation by US citizens returning from travel abroad or by foreign nationals visiting the US and those individuals' interaction with unimmunized people. Overall, 200 measles cases were linked to importations.

There were 72 cases of measles importations, almost half of which were from the European region.

Of those infected, 86% were not vaccinated against measles or did not know whether they were vaccinated.

Advice for Travellers

It should be confirmed that children have received their recommended doses of MMR at 12-15 months of age and again pre-school around 3 years 6 months, while unimmunised adults who have not had the disease themselves may consider vaccination if thought to be at risk. Two doses of MMR vaccine are required to give adequate protection.