CDC, HHS Issue Statements on Measles Outbreak – ‘Deeply Troubling’ 

MIAMI, FL - MAY 16: Shakeithia Roberts holds her son, Jermaine Roberts , as pediatrician Amanda Porro M.D. administers a measles vaccination during a visit to the Miami Children's Hospital on May 16, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that cases of measles …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As the number of measles cases reported reaches the highest number since the highly contagious disease was eliminated in the United States in 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health and Human Services (HHS) are speaking out about the need for people to use the safe and effective vaccine to end the outbreak.

The CDC reported on Wednesday that 695 cases were reported in 22 states. The CDC reported on Monday that 626 cases of measles had been reported in 22 states — up from 555 cases in 20 states one week ago.

The latest numbers came after the media reported more cases in New York, the state hardest hit by the measles outbreak, and in Washington state.

The CDC blames, in part, global travel and a movement of people who are not vaccinating their children because of fears the vaccine is connected to an autism diagnosis.

“This current outbreak is deeply troubling and I call upon all healthcare providers to assure patients about the efficacy and safety of the measles vaccine,” CDC Director Robert Redfield. said in a statement released to the media. “And, I encourage all Americans to adhere to CDC vaccine guidelines in order to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. We must work together as a Nation to eliminate this disease once and for all.”

“The longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again get a sustained foothold in the United States,” the press release from the CDC said.

The CDC reported; 

The recent outbreaks started through importation. Measles is imported when an unvaccinated traveler visits a country where there is widespread measles transmission, gets infected with measles, and returns to the United States and exposes people in a community who are not vaccinated. 

When measles is imported into a community with a highly vaccinated population, outbreaks either don’t happen or are usually small. However, once measles is in an under-vaccinated community, it becomes difficult to control the spread of the disease.

The World Health Organization reported this month that there has been a 300 percent increase in the number of measles cases worldwide compared with the first 3 months of 2018. That increase is part of a global trend seen over the past few years as other countries struggle with declining vaccination rates and may be exacerbating the situation here.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar also released a statement on the measles outbreak.

“Measles is not a harmless childhood illness, but a highly contagious, potentially life-threatening disease,” Azar said in the statement. “We have the ability to safely protect our children and our communities. Vaccines are a safe, highly effective public health solution that can prevent this disease. 

“The measles vaccines are among the most extensively studied medical products we have, and their safety has been firmly established over many years in some of the largest vaccine studies ever undertaken,” Azar said.

“With a safe and effective vaccine that protects against measles, the suffering we are seeing is avoidable.”

“All Americans would be safer and healthier if we received measles vaccines on the recommended schedule,” Azar said. “Next week is a significant opportunity to educate ourselves on the importance of vaccines, as we mark National Infant Immunization Week.” 

“The Department of Health and Human Services will undertake a comprehensive campaign to reinforce the message that vaccines are safe and effective ways to protect your children, your family, yourself, and your neighbors,” Azar said.

The LA Eater website reported “five measles cases confirmed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health this month, public health officials are investigating the origin, while figuring out how to maintain the outbreak. According to the county health department, the infected patients were exposed to the measles at five sites throughout Southern California, including two restaurants in Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge.”

“We will likely see additional measles cases in Los Angeles County, so it is important if you or someone you know has the symptoms of measles or has been exposed to measles to contact your healthcare provider by phone right away before seeking treatment,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis, said. “The best way to protect yourself and to prevent the spread of measles is to get the measles immunization, with two doses of measles immunization being about 97 percent effective at preventing measles.”

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