Although measles is no longer a prevalent disease in the United
States, it is in most countries of the world, including some
countries in Europe. Several states, including Arizona, Wisconsin,
New York and Michigan have reported measles cases this year. A
provisional total of 95 cases have been reported in the U.S. since
Jan. 1, which is the highest number of cases for the same time
period since 2001.
Measles is very infectious and is often
misdiagnosed, particularly when many physicians have had no
experience diagnosing and recognizing the disease. Measles should be
suspected in any patient with a fever, rash and the three "Cís" --
cough, coryza or runny nose, and conjunctivitis or red, runny eyes.
Patients suspected of having measles should go to a doctor to have
laboratory tests done, which the laboratory or physician should
report to a local health department as soon as possible, but no
later than 24 hours.
"These cases remind us that it is important to vaccinate children
and adults to protect against measles. Even though the ongoing
transmission of measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000,
the disease is still common in other parts of the world and can be
imported into the U.S. from many countries, including countries in
Europe. Diseases like measles are still out there, which is why it's
important to make sure vaccinations are up to date," said Dr. Damon
T. Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Worldwide, 20 million cases of measles still occur each year, and
the disease is a significant cause of vaccine-preventable death
among children. Although only between zero and three cases have been
reported annually in Illinois from 2000 through 2006, vaccination is
still highly recommended.
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The measles vaccine is administered as MMR, a combination vaccine
that provides protection against measles, mumps and rubella. The MMR
vaccine is strongly endorsed by medical and public health experts as
safe and effective. All children should receive two doses of MMR
vaccine. The first dose is recommended at 12-15 months of age and
the second dose at 4-6 years of age. All adults born during or after
1957 should receive at least one dose of vaccine unless they have
documented evidence of measles immunity (a blood test or a
physician's diagnosis of measles). Two doses are recommended for all
international travelers, health care personnel and students at
secondary and postsecondary educational facilities. Infants 6-11
months of age should receive one dose prior to travel abroad.
Further information regarding measles disease may be reviewed at
To prevent potential spread of the disease, if you or anyone in
your family exhibits the symptoms of measles, contact your physician
or local health department for further evaluation prior to visiting.
To report a case of measles, contact your local health department
as soon as possible.
Department of Public Health
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]