U.S. Measles Fate Inextricably Linked to Global Situation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a special supplement on global progress toward measles eradication and prevention of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome in the July 1 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online. This is a comprehensive review of the global efforts to eradicate measles and reaffirms a WHO Advisory Group conclusion that "measles can and should be eradicated."

While endemic measles virus transmission has not occurred in the United States since the late 1990s, and in the entire Western Hemisphere since November 2002, the U.S. is currently experiencing the highest number of measles cases since 1996. The U.S. has already seen 152 measles cases in 2011 86 percent of which are linked to direct imports of the disease from other countries.

Intensified measles vaccination efforts since 1980 have dropped childhood deaths from the disease from 2.6 million to just 164,000 in 2008 and saved an estimated 12.7 million lives between 2000 and 2008. The Measles Initiative, led by the American Red Cross, UN Foundation, CDC, UNICEF, and WHO as spearheading partners, has helped make this significant achievement possible.

Since 2009, however, a widespread resurgence of measles has affected 28 African countries with more than 200,000 reported cases and 1,400 measles-related deaths. Another 30,000 cases were reported in Europe since 2010.

For more information, visit the Measles Initiative website at http://www.measlesinitiative.org/.