Though measles has been conquered in many parts of the world through the use of vaccines, the infection still poses a risk to global health, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC, 430 children worldwide die of measles each day. Though the virtual elimination of the disease was attained in the U.S. in 2000, doctors are still warning that the disease can still make its way to the country through international travel. The agency warned that international travelers can cause an outbreak in unvaccinated people.
The numbers of unvaccinated U.S. children may also have increased in recent years due to unfounded vaccination worries. Measles diagnoses spiked in the U.S. this year, with 175 cases already reported. The CDC has linked most of these outbreaks to international travel.
“A measles outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “The steady arrival of measles in the United States is a constant reminder that deadly diseases are testing our health security every day. Someday, it won’t be only measles at the international arrival gate; so, detecting diseases before they arrive is a wise investment in U.S. health security.
A new paper published this week in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that U.S. doctors should still suspect measles for children with symptoms of high feaver and rash. This is especially the case for children who have, or have been in contact with those who have traveled internationally. The CDC is also calling for the U.S. to lead measles elimination efforts throughout the world, which would help stem measles outbreaks in the U.S.
“With patterns of global travel and trade, disease can spread nearly anywhere within 24 hours,” said Frieden. “That’s why the ability to detect, fight, and prevent these diseases must be developed and strengthened overseas, and not just here in the United States.”
Before measles vaccinations began in the U.S. in 1960, measles was seen as a childhood infection that nearly all children contracted. According to the CDC, each year around 48,000 children were hospitalized for measles, with nearly 500 dying and 1,000 suffering brain damage due to the infection.