There have been no deaths from measles in the United States since 2008, noted Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of the CDC's Division of Viral Diseases. But one of every three people who contracted the disease last year had to be hospitalized.
Measles is extremely contagious, with symptoms including a total-body rash along with flu-like symptoms such as cough and fever. The CDC and other public health authorities strongly recommend that all individuals keep up to date with their vaccinations, especially if they are planning to travel abroad.
The CDC recommends that all children receive two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, the first at 12-15 months of age and the second at 4-6 years. Very young infants can get vaccinated earlier if they are going to be traveling abroad or if they are going to be in contact with an international visitor.
"Measles is preventable and unvaccinated people put themselves and others at risk for measles and its complications, particularly those who are too young to be vaccinated who can sometimes have the worst complications," Schuchat said.
Authorities are particularly worried with the summer travel season looming and many Americans planning to attend the Olympics in London.
Find out more about measles at the Nemours Foundation.
SOURCES: April 19, 2012 press conference with Anne Schuchat, M.D., director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jane Seward, MBBS, deputy director, division of viral diseases, CDC; April 20, 2012, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
All rights reserved