Measles | Texas Public Radio

Measles

This year saw the largest outbreak of measles in the U.S. since 1994, with 1,250 cases reported as of Oct. 3, largely driven by families choosing not to vaccinate their kids. Worldwide, the disease has resurfaced in areas that had been declared measles-free.

Angelo Esslinger from Pixabay CC0: http://bit.ly/2J9vjVE

Recent outbreaks of curable infectious diseases raise questions about safety and misinformation. These outbreaks are a reminder that health is not just an individual concern but a public health issue.

  

In 2000, the Pan American Health Organization announced a monumental public health achievement: Widespread vaccination efforts, overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had effectively eliminated measles from the United States.

The disease, which before the vaccination era affected 3 million to 4 million people in the U.S. each year, was now isolated to small, contained outbreaks connected to international travel.

This year's record-setting outbreak threatens that achievement.

Measles is on the rise again, all around the globe.

Though the number of people affected in the U.S. is still relatively low compared with the countries hardest hit, there are a record number of U.S. measles cases — more than 700, so far, in 2019, according to the CDC — the highest since the disease was eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

There's strong new evidence that a common childhood vaccine is safe.

A large study released Monday finds no evidence that the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella increases the risk of autism. The study of children born in Denmark is one of the largest ever of the MMR vaccine.

More than 50 people have now been infected by the measles in an outbreak across southwest Washington state and northwest Oregon, and doctors and nurses say it's spurring people to get vaccinated.

At Sea Mar Community Health Center in Vancouver, Wash., administrator Shawn Brannan says that so many have been coming in for a measles shot recently that they had to order almost 10 times as much vaccine as usual.

"Larger populations that typically don't vaccinate their children for their own reasons are now in a mad dash, if you will, to get vaccinated," says Brannan.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.

In 1962, children's book author Roald Dahl lost his oldest daughter, Olivia, to measles. She was 7 years old.

Twenty-six years later, Dahl wrote a letter to parents about what happened:

If you take the long view, international health organizations have much to be encouraged about when it comes to the global fight against measles. From 2000 to 2017, for instance, the annual number of measles-related deaths dropped 80 percent — from a toll of over half a million to just under 110,000 last year.

Liliana Czegledi devoted herself to keeping her daughter, Ioana, alive.

The girl had been born with a compromised immune system, a damaged heart and muscles that wouldn't work. She wasn't expected to live past her second birthday. Czegledi gave up her bartending job to care for her.

"I made sure she never caught a cold because the doctor said a cold could kill her," recalls Czegledi, 50, at her home in the village of Sînandrei in western Romania. "I only brought her into the hospital when it was absolutely necessary."

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