Measles Hits 20-Year High In U.S.

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/317642073/317642074" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that measles outbreaks in the United States are now at a 20-year high, with 288 cases reported in the first five months of 2014.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Measles was eliminated in the year 2000 from the United States, but a lot can change in a few years. Today, the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention says the infection rate is at a 20-year high for measles. There have been 288 cases reported for the first five months of 2014. A couple of weeks ago we spoke to William Schaffner, who teaches preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University, about this very issue and he told us the huge factor in the outbreak is a lack of vaccinations.

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER: The measles outbreaks are clearly occurring in populations whose parents have withheld their children from immunization. They remain susceptible. Some of those children then travel abroad, encounter measles, bring it back into the United States. They become ill, and then it spreads among other unvaccinated children. And those children frequently live in similar neighborhoods or attend the same schools.

SIMON: Now this is confirmed by the CDC, whose scientists believe that many of the outbreaks occurred after people travelled to the Philippines, which is experiencing a large outbreak of the disease. Ninety percent of all measles cases in the United States occur in people who are not immunized. Public health officials say the best way to avoid contracting measles is to get vaccinated.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.