As most people expected, there are more measles cases in Boston following the initial case of measles in an employee at the French consulate.
So far, there are three more suspected cases, all in people who lived or worked near the first measles case. The fact that someone could have contracted measles simply by eating in one of the same restaurants as someone with measles or because they live nearby, should remind people just how highly contagious measles really is.
A second free measles vaccination clinic held by the Boston Public Health Commission yesterday will hopefully contain further spread and turn this into a bigger measles outbreak.
Surprisingly, this isn't the only measles scare in the US right now. Thousands of passengers at airports in Washington, D.C. (Dulles International Airport), Denver (concourse C at the Denver International Airport) and Albuquerque (Albuquerque Sunport) could have been exposed to a 27-year-old passenger who had traveled from the United Kingdom last Tuesday and has tested positive for measles. There are over 1,000 cases of measles in the UK each year, and they are rising, as fewer children get immunized with the MMR vaccine.
And in yet another measles case, an infant who had recently returned from a trip with his family to India, where there are still about 40,000 cases of measles a year, was diagnosed with measles in Clark County, Washington. Among the people exposed to measles include children and parents at the child's pediatrician's office, where he was taken, and at a nearby hospital, where they went to an outpatient lab to have tests done. Fortunately, there have been no secondary cases in this case, although the 7 to 21 measles incubation period for measles doesn't formally end until March 8 in this case.
What do all of these incidents have in common? International travel. While many vaccine-preventable infections are well controlled or have been eliminated in the United States, most are still a big problem around the world. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 'In 2008, there were 164,000 measles deaths globally - nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour. ' And measles remains one of the leading causes of death in children.
But while the first case of measles is often started when someone travels out of the country, your kids don't have to step on a plane to get infected. You just need to be sitting near the infected person (who can be contagious for up to four days before he develops the classic measles rash) at your pediatrician's office, at school, or in a restaurant, etc.