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Measles outbreak underscores need for continued vigilance in health care settings
Date:4/28/2011

ersonnel, from health care personnel to patient, from patient to patient, and from patient to visitor.

As part of the investigation, health care facilities attempted to access records documenting evidence of measles immunity for 14,844 health care personnel at seven hospitals. However, none of the hospitals maintained electronic records of health care personnel immunity status, so they were instead forced to review paper records. Without readily accessible electronic records clearly showing immunity status, unnecessary serologic testing was conducted for some personnel who were immune to measles. A total of 4,448 health care personnel at the seven hospitals received immediate measles vaccinations because they lacked documentation of measles immunity. About 15,120 employee hours were lost in furloughs because of presumptive exposure, disease, or lack of evidence of immunity. Overall, the estimated economic impact for just two of the hospitals was almost $800,000, with furloughs for health care personnel accounting for 56 percent of that cost.

In this report, Sanny Y. Chen, PhD, along with colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Arizona health authorities show the high costs hospitals can incur when responding to measles outbreaks in their facilities. To minimize these costs and to prevent the health care-associated spread of measles, they stress that hospitals must (1) ensure rapidly retrievable measles immunity records for health care personnel, (2) consider measles as a diagnosis, especially among patients presenting with fever, rash, and a recent history of international travel or contact with a person with a clinically consistent rash illness, and (3) institute immediate airborne isolation of patients with suspected and confirmed measles.

The authors believe that a number of factors contributed to the Tucson outbreak, including the following:

  • lack of adherence to U.S. vaccine policy recommendations, <
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Contact: John Heys
jheys@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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