Posts Tagged ‘ Vaccines ’

Measles Cases Reach 20-Year-High, Continue to Rise

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Sick-Girl-Child-MeaslesThe number of reported cases of measles continues to rise in the United States, according to federal health officials. Earlier in May, the number of illnesses hit an 18-year-high, and now the number has increased to 288 confirmed cases, a record high for the past 20 years. The number is also expected to continue to rise during the summer. More from the New York Times:

Largely because of resistance to vaccination, cases of measles have reached a 20-year high in the United States, federal health officials said on Thursday.

As of May 23, there were 288 confirmed cases in the United States — more than in all of 2013, and more than in the equivalent period of any year since 1994. The number is expected to increase during the summer travel season.

“This is not the kind of record we want to break,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of immunization and respiratory diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The measles virus, which is highly contagious, usually causes only a fever and a rash. But it can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, deafness and even death. An unvaccinated American child who develops measles has about a one in 500 chance of dying, even with hospital care, according to the C.D.C.

There were fewer than 200 cases last year; the record low was 37 cases in 2004.

Eighty-five percent of this year’s cases were in people not vaccinated because of religious, philosophical or personal objections, Dr. Schuchat said.

In an unusual twist, over half were ages 20 or older. They may have included adults whose parents refused to vaccinate them years ago, she said.

Forty-three of the 288 who contracted the virus were hospitalized, most with pneumonia. None died.

Almost half the cases were part of a continuing outbreak in Amish communities in Ohio that started with missionaries who had traveled to the Philippines, which is experiencing an outbreak that has caused 41 deaths.

There were 60 cases in California, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Orange County, where large numbers of wealthy parents refuse to vaccinate their children.

The third-biggest outbreak was in New York City, which registered 26 cases in February and March. It was concentrated in Upper Manhattan, and cases are believed to have spread in hospital waiting rooms because doctors and nurses did not promptly recognize the symptoms. At least two children that contracted the virus were from families that refused vaccines; seven were too young to be vaccinated.

Of the cases whose origins could be traced, 22 were imported from the Philippines, six from India, two from China, and the rest from 15 other countries.

Measles can be caught virtually anywhere. France, the world’s most popular tourist destination, had an outbreak of 20,000 cases from 2008 to 2011.

Before measles vaccination became routine in the early 1960s, about 500,000 Americans got the virus each year, most of them young children. Of those, about 48,000 were hospitalized, about 500 died, and many more suffered brain damage and deafness.

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Image: A sick cute girl is measuring the temperature via ShutterStock

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Delaying Measles Vaccine Might Increase Seizure Risk

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Though many parents choose to delay vaccines, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics is linking waiting until after 15 months of age to give kids the measles vaccine might put them at higher risk of developing seizures.  More from CNN:

There are many myths about vaccinations floating around the Internet, says Dr. Simon Hambidge. One that giving vaccinations too close together is unhealthy  has prompted some parents to request that their children receive vaccines on an alternate schedule, Hambidge told CNN in an e-mail.

Hambidge, an expert in pediatric vaccination with Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Research Colorado, is lead author of a new study that examines the association between vaccine timing and seizures.

His team found that in the first year of life, there is no relationship between the recommended vaccine schedule and seizures. But delaying the measles vaccine until after a child is 15 months old may raise his or her seizure risk. The study results were published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

“A number of people have claimed that a young child’s immune system is not robust enough to be given multiple vaccines, and that it is safer to ‘spread out’ vaccination,” Hambidge said. “There is no scientific evidence for this, and there is evidence that it is safe and effective to follow the current recommended schedule.”

This year has seen an increase in measles cases, with recent figures putting the number of cases at an 18-year-high.

Image: Baby getting vaccine, via Shutterstock

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Measles Cases at 18-Year-High in U.S.

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

An outbreak of measles in an Amish community in Ohio has put the national tally of cases at an 18-year-high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease had been considered eradicated, because of effective and widely-used vaccines, in 2000. CNN has more:

The outbreak in Ohio began with a group from Christian Aid Ministries, who went on a mission trip to the Philippines earlier this year, health officials say. Philippines is experiencing a very large measles outbreak; at least 20,000 confirmed and suspected cases have been reported in the Asian nation.

Four people who were on the mission trip became infected, according to Pam Palm, the public information officer for Knox County Health Department, and the disease has since spread to 62 others in the Amish community. Knox County has 40 cases.

Palm said the first few cases were initially misdiagnosed as dengue fever, a testament to how few cases of measles doctors usually see.

“Because of the success of the measles vaccine, many clinicians have never seen measles and may not be able to recognize its features,” Dr. Julia Sammons wrote in a commentary published in April in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ohio health officials have immunized nearly 800 people with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine since the outbreak began.

“The Amish who are family members and acquaintances of those who now have measles have been extremely cooperative in a willingness to get vaccinated,” Jackie Fletcher, director of nursing for the Knox County Health Department, said in a statement. “And those who currently have measles have been staying home.”

California, another state reporting a high number of measles cases this year, said its outbreak also resulted from people visiting the Philippines.

Visitors may pick up the disease and bring it back to the United States, potentially infecting those who cannot be vaccinated against the measles because they are too young, for example, or who have intentionally remained unvaccinated.

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 24 found 129 cases of measles in the United States between January 1 to April 18. That’s the highest number of cases recorded for the period since 1996. Some of the Ohio cases were recorded after that reporting period — meaning the total now is undoubtedly higher.

Fletcher said many of the measles patients her staff are seeing are “really sick.” Symptoms usually include fever, cough and conjunctivitis, along with a rash. In rare cases, measles can lead to pneumonia and brain infections, which can be fatal.

Image: Measles warning sign, via Shutterstock

Download our vaccination sheet to keep your child on track with her shots.

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

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Polio Health Emergency Declared by WHO

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared polio to be an international health emergency, with ten countries affected by documented outbreak and spreading of the disease.  More from Time.com:

Especially concerning was the fact that three countries—Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon—showed higher rates of transmission of wild polio virus to other nations even during the disease’s more dormant period. That raises the possibility that when the virus becomes more active, from April into the summer, transmission rates will peak even more. “If the situation as of today and April 2014 is unchecked, it could result in the failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious vaccine preventable diseases,” Dr. Bruce Ayleward, WHO’s assistant director general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration said during a conference call.

The emergency measures require that residents in the three countries actively exporting polio virus receive a dose of either of the two polio vaccines four weeks-to-12 months before traveling, and that they be provided with proof of their immunization. The remaining seven affected countries are encouraged, but not required, to do the same. The WHO recommended these measures remain in place until countries show no new transmission of polio for six months and evidence of eradication efforts, including immunization programs. While not legally binding, the cooperation of affected countries is expected, Ayleward said. The WHO’s action may also help governments to make polio immunization a priority; in 2009, a similar declaration during the H1N1 pandemic allowed nations to prioritize health care services to protect and treat patients affected by the flu.

Health officials have been getting closer to making polio the second disease, after smallpox, to be eradicated by vaccinating children in countries where the wild virus continues to circulate. But social unrest and political conflict have interrupted immunization programs—some health workers have become targets of violence in Pakistan, for example, while growing populations of displaced residents such as refugees who are without access to health care services also provide fertile conditions for the virus to spread. Seven of the 10 countries now reporting wild polio virus have been successful at eliminating the disease in the past, but have been reinfected in recent years.

Download our free pocket guide to keep track of your little one’s vaccination schedule.

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

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Kristin Cavallari Comes Out as Anti-Vaccine

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Kristin Cavallari, a former reality TV star who is expecting her second son, has gone public with her decision to refrain from vaccinating her children, saying she’s “read too many books” about autism and citing “some scary statistics.”  Time.com reports:

Former reality star Kristin Cavallari admitted to not vaccinating her son, and not planning to do so, in a Fox Business interview on Thursday. On Friday, she defended her position on “Fox & Friends,” adding that it was not something she planned to come out publicly on, but it just came up in the interview.

“Listen, to each their own,” Cavallari, pregnant with her second son, said. “I understand both sides of it. I’ve ready too many books about autism and there’s some scary statistics out there. It’s our personal choice, and, you know, if you’re really concerned about your kid get them vaccinated.”

The idea that vaccines cause autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has long been debunked by science, though it persists in part because of celebrities like Cavallari and, more famously, Jenny McCarthy, who perpetuate the link in interviews and public appearances.  Meanwhile, diseases that are preventable through vaccination, like measles and whooping cough, are cropping up again in communities across the country.

A recent study found that efforts to educate the public about the benefits of vaccines are not very effective, especially when parents have already formed negative opinions about the safety of vaccination.

Image: Kristin Cavallari, via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

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