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Measles Outbreak Triggered by Unvaccinated Child
Date:3/22/2010

Case illustrates that people who chose not to vaccinate put others at risk, researcher says

MONDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- What began as a family trip to Switzerland in 2008 ended up as a public health nightmare in California.

The family's 7-year-old boy, who was intentionally unvaccinated against measles, was exposed to the virus while traveling in Europe. When he returned home to San Diego, he unknowingly exposed a total of 839 people, and an additional 11 unvaccinated children contracted the disease.

Three of those infected were babies, too young to have yet received the measles vaccines, and one of the babies was hospitalized for three days with a 106-degree fever, according to a report to be published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

"Measles is just a plane ride away, including places like Switzerland and the U.K.," said one of the researchers, Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of viral diseases at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This study serves as a reminder that measles can be a very serious disease that can lead to severe complications and death, and that the measles, mumps, rubella [MMR] vaccine is highly effective and the best way to prevent measles. It's also a reminder that people who choose not to vaccinate don't just put themselves and their children at risk, but also their communities, which includes infants who are too young to immunize," she said.

This 2008 outbreak was the first in San Diego since 1991, according to the report. Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, as many as 500 children died each year from the measles, and nearly 50,000 were hospitalized annually in the United States because of the virus, according to background information in the report.

In recent years, however, the virus has resurged as many parents choose not to vaccinate thei
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