Unvaccinated Kids Behind Largest U.S. Measles Outbreak in Years: Study

Vaccination and quick public health response are limiting these outbreaks, experts say

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Containing the outbreak meant contacting 12,000 people about possible exposure and quarantining 184 people, including 51 students. Of the teens not vaccinated, including the European traveler, six were unvaccinated due to personal exemptions.

"Personal exemptions include philosophical or any other unspecified non-medical exemption," the researchers noted.

"It is always a concern to have a large number of unvaccinated people in close proximity," Leniek said in an IDSA statement. "Our goal is to have as many people vaccinated as possible to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine and who are not fully immunized."

Another Thursday presentation centered on a large measles outbreak in Quebec, Canada: the largest since 1989, with 757 cases as of October 5.

That outbreak started with 18 people who traveled abroad, most to Europe. Among those infected, 505 had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was not known, and 70 had received only one doses of the vaccine, according to the report.

"This outbreak is being fed largely on unvaccinated or undervaccinated people, but we were concerned that a significant number had received the recommended two doses of MMR vaccine," Philippe Belanger, an epidemiologist at Ministre de la Sant et des Services Sociaux du Quebec, Montreal, said in the releases.

To keep measles at bay, Pavlo said public health officials should be on the outlook for measles and the high level of vaccination needs to be maintained.

"The ongoing fear of the measles vaccine and the myths about measles vaccine and autism just won't go away -- and put us at continuous risk," Pavlo said. One such myth, according to most experts, is that the shot might cause autism in children. That notion spread after a British researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, published a study in The Lancet in 1998 claiming a link. The research was later discovered to be fraudulent, however, and the journal has since retracted the article.

Pavlo stressed that when parents decide against vaccinating their child, their action may affect other kids, as well.

"Your child might get measles and do well. But if you are the one who brings measles back into the community and your child infects someone else in the classroom who can't be vaccinated because of being immunocompromised, you might be responsible for the death of another child or an infant who can't be vaccinated," he said.

More information

For more information on measles, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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