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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: June 13, 2014


DOVER (June 12, 2014) - Between January 1 and May 23, 2014, 288 cases of measles were reported nationally to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the largest number of measles cases in the U.S. reported in the first five months of any year since 1994. Although Delaware's last measles case was in 2012, the rising number of cases nationwide is a concern and could have local impact. Most measles cases this year have been associated with international travel by unvaccinated people.

Measles is an acute viral illness characterized by a high fever, malaise, cough and conjunctivitis, followed by a rash. It is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious complications and death. Anyone who is not protected against the disease is at risk, especially international travelers. Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles, and 122,000 die from the disease each year. Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, meaning that there was no longer continuous measles transmission for more than 12 months.

"The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people, primarily U.S. residents, who got measles in other countries, brought the virus back to the United States and spread it to others in communities where many people are not vaccinated," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases."Many of the clusters in the U.S. began following travel to the Philippines, where a large outbreak has been occurring since October 2013."

Of the 288 cases, 280 were associated with transmissions from at least 18 countries, and more than one in seven cases has led to hospitalization. Ninety percent of all measles cases in the United States were in people who were not vaccinated, or whose vaccination status was unknown. Among the U.S. residents not vaccinated, 85 percent cited religious, philosophical, or personal reasons.

The large number of measles cases this year emphasizes the importance of vaccination.

The Delaware Division of Public Health recommends:

Healthcare providers should use every patient encounter to ensure that all patients are up-to-date on vaccinations For more information on causes, symptoms, and transmission, visit the CDC measles web page at www.cdc.gov/measles/.

For more information about the CDC report, visit www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6322a4.htm?s_cid=mm6322a4_w.

To contact the Delaware Division of Public Health about measles call the Office of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology at 302-744-1033. A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.