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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

International Measles Outbreaks

By October 10, 2011

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While news of measles outbreaks seems to be slowing down in the United States, reports continue of increased cases in other parts of the world.

In addition to the well-publicized outbreaks of measles in Africa and Europe, some other large international measles outbreaks have occurred in:

  • Quebec, Canada - 742 cases, including 89 cases that required hospitalization
  • New Zealand - at least 302 cases, including 50 cases that required hospitalization

The interesting thing about the cases in New Zealand, is that it only has a population of about 4.3 million people. If you compare that to the 300 million people in the United States, then their having more cases of measles than we do seems even more out of the ordinary.

It is also interesting to read about how the outbreaks in New Zealand started - 3 unvaccinated students caught measles on trip to Singapore and the Philippines last January. In addition to the 8 passengers on the flights from Singapore to Australia and from Australia to New Zealand who got measles, those initial cases quickly spread in that country with rather low immunization levels.

And outbreaks continue as new cases spread to areas where families are not immunized. People are even getting exposed to measles on domestic flights in New Zealand and there is concern that measles may soon reach an epidemic level.

Sine the cases in the U.S. are all imported, it is important to follow these outbreaks. The outbreaks are a good reminder to make sure you are following the latest measles vaccination recommendations before traveling and that your child's immunizations are all up-to-date.

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