Measles (Rubeola) (cont.)

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If measles only rarely occurs in the United States, why should I get vaccinated?

Although measles only rarely occurs in the United States, it still does occur and can be fatal.

When the number of vaccinated individuals starts to decrease, the disease starts to occur more frequently. This occurred from 1989 until 1991 in the U.S. During that period, there were 55,000 cases and 123 deaths from measles in the U.S. Due to a massive public-health effort, almost all children in the U.S. now receive measles vaccine before they are allowed to enter school. The number of cases of measles in the U.S. dropped to only 37 in 2004.

However, because of more people not being vaccinated, in 2011, the number of cases grew to 222. Fortunately, there were no deaths among those 222. Most cases are now from outside the U.S. The cases come from three common sources: infants being adopted from China, U.S. travelers being exposed while out of the country (now most commonly from European travel), and from foreign travelers visiting the U.S. A recent small outbreak was caused when a fan at Super Bowl 2012 exposed fans to the disease. At least two people contracted the disease from this exposure.

Do I need to be revaccinated against measles if I am traveling to Europe?

Europe has been experiencing recent epidemics measles. This is likely due to poor rates of vaccinations in many European countries. U.S. travelers should make sure that they have received at least two vaccinations against measles (MMR).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/20/2014

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