April 1, 2008


The recent measles outbreak in San Diego—started by one child who imported the disease from Switzerland—reinforces the ongoing need to maintain high vaccination coverage, Dr. Jane Seward said at the winter meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The unvaccinated 7-year-old boy, who had rash onset 12 days after returning to the United States, infected at least 11 additional children ranging in age from 10 months to 9 years. Four were infected in the pediatrician’s office that the child had visited the day before he was taken to a hospital emergency department for high fever and generalized rash. Another two cases were the boy’s siblings, while five attended his school.

One infant was hospitalized for 2 days for dehydration, and another traveled by plane to Hawaii while infectious, necessitating “quite a response” by public health authorities in that state, Dr. Seward noted.

All cases were unvaccinated, including eight whose parents had claimed personal belief exemptions.

This really is a problem. Don’t get your health-policy advice from Don Imus. (Via Dr. George Milonas, who emails: “The truth is we were very lucky that the dam did not break into a full scale epidemic. There were just enough kids vaccinated in the area to prevent the worst case scenario.”)

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