Measles: Still a Threat

Apr 21, 2011, 3:55 PM

New reports (PDF) by the World Health Organization show measles remain a major public health problem in Europe. France — which reported 5,000 cases in 2010 — saw more than 1,000 cases in January 2011 alone.

U.S. health officials are also concerned about measles in Europe. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed the cases of seven children — each 23 months old or younger — who contracted measles while abroad. Measles, which can be fatal, are especially dangerous for very young children.

Four of the seven children were hospitalized, though all recovered. The general recommendation for the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is that the first dose be given at 12 months. However, for children who will be living or travelling abroad, the CDC recommends the first dose be given at 6 months, while unvaccinated children older than 12 months should receive two doses at least 28 days apart. An editor’s note in the report questioned whether practitioners are aware of that CDC recommendation.

Weigh in: Have there been measles or other preventable disease outbreaks in your community?

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.