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Friday May 31, 2019

U.S. could lose its status as a measles terminator

Christmas

It was a proud moment for our nation. The year 2000 didn't just mark a new century and millennium. It was also the year when measles was declared eliminated from the United States, a goal the country had been working toward for 34 years. But now we are in danger of losing that designation.

The eradication of measles in the United States "was thanks to a highly effective vaccination program in the United States, as well as better measles control in the Americas region," the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reported in its history of measles. Elimination is defined as absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months.

It was  a moment that marked this nation as a world leader in public health. Sixteen years later, meaasles would be declared eliminated throughout the Americas, the first region in the world where that happened.

And now the United States might be leading the region back to a bad place. On Thursday, the CDC warned that ongoing measles outbreaks are putting the nation in danger of losing its "elimination status."

"Outbreaks in New York City and Rockland County, N.Y., have continued for nearly right months.  If these outbreaks continue through summer and fall, the United States may lose its measles elimination status," the CDC said in a press release.

"That loss would be a huge blow for the nation and erase the hard work done by all levels of public health."

"The measles elimination goal, first announced in 1966 and accomplished in 2000, was a monumental task. Before widespread use of the measles vaccine, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States, along with an estimated 400 to 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations."

The nation's health agency reported 971 cases of measles so far in 2019.  "This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992, when 963 cases were reported for the entire year." it said. 

"The measles elimination goal, first announced in 1966 and accomplished in 2000, was a monumental task. Before widespread use of the measles vaccine, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States, along with an estimated 400 to 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations."

Our nation doesn't have to go backwards. The measles vaccine is readily available, highly effective against this extremely contagious disease, and it does not cause autism. Brilliant American scientists developed the vaccine, their gift to the nation and the world. What a shame it would be to let measles gain a real foothold again.

 

 

 

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