Health experts expressed measles risks in children and reiterated vaccination as the best means of protection. New research showed 12.5 percent of all children in the United States, roughly 8.7 million, remain unprotected.
The recent data analysis showed approximately 9 million children in the U.S. aged between one and 17 are prone to the disease. Researchers from Emory University in Georgia found the rate of children with high risk of catching measles range from 92 to 94 percent. The findings were released by the National Immunization Survey-Teen.
The findings showed some children in this age bracket have a high risk of catching measles because they are not old enough to receive vaccines or for some medical and religions reasons. Parental decisions also affect a child's risk as some parents choose not to have their children vaccinated.
The analysis also found one in every four children below the age of 3 would catch measles, around 24.7 percent. Findings include 4.6 percent of teenagers aged 17-years-old and below have yet to receive measles, mumps and rubella shots.
"Although we eliminated continuous measles transmission in the U.S. about 15 years ago thanks to the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine and robust vaccination rates, these study results show that we can't get complacent," said lead study author Dr. Robert Bednarczyk.
Measles can be transmitted through direct contact with infected persons. The diseases can also be caught via air-borne droplets. Untreated cases can lead to encephalitis, pneumonia and even death. Measles is a highly contagious but preventable disease. Vaccination remains as the top prevention to ensure high immunity.
A large-scale outbreak of measles is possible if large numbers of children remain unvaccinated in communities. This could lead to the transmission of the virus to surrounding communities. Bednarczyk suggests that children, regardless of age, should undergo two measles shots at applicable ages. The MRR vaccine shots are typically given in two ages. First shot is given when the child is between 12 and 15 months of age. The second shot is given when the child is between 4 and 6 years old. Children are advised to get their MMR shots before attending school. However, children with immune disorders or medical conditions like cancer are exempted from taking the shots. Some states in the U.S. allow vaccine exemptions for medical and personal reasons. Only three states in the entire U.S. do not allow the nonmedical exemptions.
Measles has been found a lesser-known health risk among travelers. In another study, researchers looked into the 2000 to 2014 data gathered from 57 travel and medical clinics in tropical countries. Researchers found there were 94 documented cases of measles and two-thirds of the cases took place in 2010 and beyond. Affected patients include tourists and business travelers.
Lead author Mark J. Sotir from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised getting vaccinated first prior to traveling and that people traveling should be concerned about measles.
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