Measles: coming to a town near you?

Update (2/15) for your information:  A reader has sent us this very interesting video of a doctor telling us about all of the deadly diseases entering the US with immigrants.

Drudge has a story posted this morning about how tens of thousands of Super Bowl tourists may have been exposed to a virulent case of measles.   Officials aren’t telling us who exactly the infected person,or persons, are. Here is the notice from the Hamilton County,Indiana Health Department.

Then here (at Medscape Today) is a very helpful review of the reemergence of the potentially fatal disease in Europe and in the United States.

From Medscape Today:

Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases in humans. It is a major contributor to child mortality worldwide and kills approximately 1-3 of every 1000 infected individuals, even in developed countries.[1] An effective vaccine was introduced in the 1960s, and along with global prioritization of measles control initiatives, this advance has significantly reduced the burden of disease. In 1997, 36 million cases and more than 1 million deaths occurred worldwide, but measles now accounts for an estimated 164,000 deaths per year globally. Endemic transmission was declared to be eliminated in the United States and the Americas in 2000.[2-4]

This was promising news, yet today, measles is reemerging as a public health threat. As of August 26, 2011, 198 cases and 15 outbreaks of measles were reported in the United States, the largest number of cases seen in this country since 1996.[5-7] In Europe, outbreaks have been ongoing in 36 of the 53 World Health Organization (WHO) European member countries, resulting in almost 30,000 cases in 2011. Measles is now considered endemic in the United Kingdom after being reportedly eliminated as of 1995.[8-10] In Africa, the number of cases increased from 36,000 in 2009 to 172,824 in 2010, and outbreaks were reported in countries with successful measles control programs.[3] Even in countries with widespread vaccine availability and a well-established public health infrastructure, sustaining measles control has become a growing challenge.

The Measles Revival

The reemergence of measles is the result of the confluence of 3 factors:

* High transmissibility of the measles virus;
* Increasing rates of vaccine refusal; and
* Globalization.

Expanding on that last point—globalization—Medscape says this (emphasis mine):

Recent outbreaks also illustrate the effects of globalization. Measles remains endemic in many countries, including many European countries, making exposure a real possibility for susceptible travelers or visitors. In the United States, 89% of measles cases were imported by returning travelers or recent immigrants.[22-24]

If your city or town is a “welcoming” community for refugees, you might want to make sure they are all being vaccinated. They should have been immunized before entering the US.

Indianapolis is a big refugee resettlement site as is Fort Wayne, IN which we learned about in 2007 when it was having problems with TB.

Lugar Refugee Study

All this reminds me, whatever happened to Indiana Senator Richard Lugar’s 2010 investigation of the refugee overload in his state, here.  Did it disappear into one of those Washington, DC black holes?

If the subject of immigrant health interests you, we have an entire category, built over nearly 5 years of posting, which holds 123 posts at this time on the topic.