The End of a Measles Epidemic


Getting vaccinated against measles can put an end to the outbreak.

Paris Acosta, Photojournalist

The United States declared measles eliminated in 2000, implying that the measles virus was no longer native to the U.S. However, during the recent measles epidemic that took place during the year of 2014, the nation reached a record number in measles cases—644 cases in 27 states. This was the greatest number of cases since the measles “elimination” in 2000.

Public health officials have stated that the current outbreak is due to reluctant parents who refuse to vaccinate their children against measles. Experts claim that these reluctant parents were most likely discouraged by mistaken fears about childhood vaccines; this may be attributed to the 1998 paper published and retracted in the medical journal, The Lancet. The study falsely suggested that there was a positive correlation between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Due to the falsification of this data, the lead author of this paper has lost his medical license. Several dozen studies and a report from the Institute of Medicine have found no link between autism and any vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge parents to immunize their children, and adults who aren’t sure about their vaccination history should get a booster dose as well.

According to the CDC, the measles outbreak began at two Disney theme parks in southern California in December of 2014.The source of infection is believed to have been a foreign visitor or a U.S. resident returning from abroad. The total number of measles cases in California stands at 123, but the outbreak seems to be declining. Since the last measles update on Friday (2/20/2015), California health officials reported Monday (2/23/2015) that there have been no new cases.

Although this was the first time that no new cases have been reported between state updates, California officials told the Associated Press that the outbreak can’t be declared over until two incubation periods have passed. An incubation period may last from four days before to four days after the appearance of the telltale rash. Sarah Yu (12), states “I’m glad to hear that the number of cases is decreasing and under control, but only time will tell if it truly gets better.” Until we can be sure that measles is no longer a threat to our health, make sure to take precautious measures to stay healthy, Mustangs!