A total of 66 cases of measles were reported from across the U.S of which 34 were traced to have got infected from a single source. A 17 year old girl, who had travelled to Romania sans vaccination contracted the viral infection when she returned to the U.S. The highly contagious infection characterised by typical rashes ,and fever was then unknowingly passed on to 33 other close contacts that had interacted with her upon her return to the U.S after her sojourn abroad.
This isolated incident resulted in skyrocketing the incidence of measles to almost double of the previous year. Year 2004 had only 37 recorded cases. The number of cases that were recorded in 2004 were the least number recorded in almost 90 years.
The young girl had been to Romania as a missionary to an orphanage. Unwittingly she brought back this infection that tore apart the carefully built up immunisation regime against the disease by the health officials in her home state, Indiana. The one grave lapse from her part was that she failed to get herself vaccinated against measles before she left the country. Although the outbreak caused no deaths, three individuals needed hospitalisation, informed officials from the federal Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 34 people who contracted this infection from the teenager, only two had been previously vaccinated against measles.
Some parents in the affected neighbourhood had decided not to vaccinate their children against measles, fearing side effects,inspite of concrete evidence that measles vaccine is indeed safe. A huge epidemic was prevented only because the majority of the people in the area where the outbreak took place had taken vaccination against measles, the agency noted.
Data collected reveals that the other 32 cases recorded from various states in the U.S were contracted when abroad .Seven of those cases were foreigners who had contracted the infection before entering the U.S.In all 50 of the recorded 66 cases had not recieved vaccination against measles.
Measles vaccine became available for the first time in 1963.Records reveal that prior to that period, there were more than 450,000 measles cases annually in the U.S.One in thousand cases also used to die from this infection annually.
Physicians in the U.S have been exhorted to advice all people in the high risk group , such as school going kids ,health care personnel, and globe trotters and travellers,to comply with taking requisite immunisation against this highly infectious disease .Currently the vaccination rates against measles is about 90% in the U.S.