December 4, 2014

Measles Outbreak

From The Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2014 Section A17
"The Measles Outbreak Coming Near You" by Haider Javed Warraich

I was working on the hospital infectious-disease service when our team was asked to see a young girl with a mysterious illness that no one had been able to diagnose. She had come to the emergency room with a fever and runny nose and had a rash spreading across her body. She had developed a cough so harsh that “whooping cough” had been added to the long list of possible infirmities. But when the senior doctor on our team, Frank Berkowitz, an expert in pediatric infections—arrived at her room, he knew the diagnosis immediately: She had measles.
Many developing countries continue to suffer from measles, an extremely contagious respiratory disease, but the U.S. in 2000 was declared “measles free” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The news of a confirmed case set our hospital abuzz, and uniformed CDC officers soon swooped in.
How did the young girl get the disease? Her parents had refused to vaccinate her.
Hers is far from the only case. Measles is making a terrifying comeback in the U.S., with some 600 cases reported this year, more than in any year in the past two decades. There are two reasons: the ease of international travel, and an increasing number of people refusing vaccinations, usually on behalf of their children.        Read full story