Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Is Measles' Return the 'New Normal'?


Pediatricians and parents struggle with keeping children safe amid concerns over vaccine

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Tara Haelle

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Is measles really back?

That's the question vexing everyone from pediatricians to policymakers to parents as the outbreak of the dangerous childhood disease that was declared eliminated from the United States 15 years ago continues to spread.

There are now 121 cases in 17 states and the District of Columbia, federal health officials reported Monday. At this rate, total infections for 2015 would produce numbers not seen in more than a decade.

The initial cases that first surfaced at two Disney theme parks in southern California in December were likely transmitted by a foreign visitor or a U.S. resident returning from abroad. But, the disease continues to spread, particularly in communities with clusters of parents who've chosen not to vaccinate their children for religious or personal reasons.

"It's going like wildfire," said Dr. Carol Baker, executive director of the Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. "Measles is a really terrible disease. You have fever for a week, your eyes hurt so bad you have to stay in a dark room, and you don't even ask to go outside and play because you're so sick, even if you have uncomplicated measles."

Baker said she's particularly concerned because the new strain of measles is more infectious than many past strains. With a typical measles strain, one person passes the disease on to 12 to 18 others, but with this one, a single infected person can infect almost 30 people, she said.

"The California health department officials are really worried about 'the new normal' with this strain and their pockets of unvaccinated individuals," Baker said. "This is a problem we should not be having, but we are."

Many parents are responding to the outbreak by making sure their children are protected with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.

"Here in Los Angeles, we have had a huge increase in parents bringing their children in for the MMR, both to get caught up or to get an earlier second dose," said Dr. Cigal Shaham, a pediatrician at Roxbury Pediatrics and attending physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She said her center is also receiving at least 20 extra phone calls a day from parents asking about measles and the vaccine.

source : Is Measles' Return the 'New Normal'?

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