i Choose Summer Blog – Measles

13 Jul

Hi all! This summer we’re trying out a new iChoose blog. We’ll be sharing some brief thought-provoking and timely topics every week on vaccine and disease-related stories. Hope you enjoy this new feature!

This week’s topic:  Is measles abroad a concern for Californians?

Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes. Measles continues to be a problem nationwide. A recent CDC health advisory announced that 156 cases of measles had been confirmed in US communities in the first six months of 2011.

Measles is so serious, people used to say, “Don’t count your children until they’ve had the measles.” Disease can happen in the young and old alike – complications can include pneumonia, encephalitis, or death. Fortunately, measles hasn’t been widespread in the U.S. for many years due to high vaccination rates. However, this isn’t the case for other parts in the world.

Where in the world do we commonly find measles?

You might be surprised! European countries like France, the UK, Spain, and Switzerland are having large-scale outbreaks. Asia (including India) and Africa also have high numbers of measles cases.

How does this affect California?

Investigators tell us that the vast majority of new measles cases come from people traveling overseas. That means Americans traveling abroad and returning with measles or foreign travelers bringing measles into the U.S. The majority of these travelers were unvaccinated. Think about it – in these long transcontinental flights, someone with measles could infect many others just during the journey! Recently, these new airport signs alert overseas travelers coming in to California about measles.

If unchecked, measles is extremely contagious. Because symptoms don’t appear right away, someone who’s been infected can easily spread the disease before they even know they’re sick. The best way to stop the spread of measles is to make sure you and your family members have been vaccinated. If you want to learn more about measles, check out the CDC’s measles webpage.

Have you seen the new airport signs? Still wondering about the recent outbreaks of measles? Post a comment!