(HealthDay News) — The number of people infected with measles linked to the outbreak at Disney amusement parks in Southern California now stands at 70, health officials reported Thursday.
The overwhelming majority of cases – 62 – have been reported in California, and most of those people hadn’t gotten the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, the Associated Press reported. Public health officials are urging people who haven’t been vaccinated against measles to avoid the Disney parks where the outbreak originated. Gil Chavez, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist for California, also urged the unvaccinated to avoid places with lots of international travelers, such as airports.
The United States declared measles eliminated from the country in 2000. This meant the disease was no longer native to the United States. The country was able to eliminate measles because of effective vaccination programs and a strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in the intervening years, a small but growing number of parents have chosen not to have their children vaccinated, due largely to what infectious-disease experts call mistaken fears about childhood vaccines.
On Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that all parents vaccinate their children against measles. “Vaccines are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children from very real diseases that exist in our world,” Errol Alden, MD, the academy’s executive director and CEO, said in an AAP news release. “The measles vaccine is safe and effective.” The AAP, the CDC, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that children receive the MMR vaccine at age 12–15 months, and again at 4–6 years.