Vaccines

Measles Cases Triple in United States

Combination of foreign visitors and unvaccinated children

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Measles, one of the most communicable of all infectious diseases, is spiking in the United States, with three times as many cases as usual this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. The spike is due to both foreign importations — infected travelers coming from places where measles is not under control — and local vulnerability: unvaccinated children and adults in the United States.

In a press briefing, the CDC's director Dr. Thomas Frieden said that from January to November, there were 175 known cases of measles in the US, with 20 of those people having to be hospitalized. The agency would expect to see about 60 cases, he said. Those cases came from 52 separate travelers. Most of the time, the imported virus found only a few people to infect — but nine times, the imports caused large outbreaks, always in people who had not received the vaccine.

"It is not a failure of the vaccine," Frieden said. "It's a failure to vaccinate. Around 90 percent of the people who have had measles in this country were not vaccinated either because they refused, or were not vaccinated on time."