Health Indicator Report of Measles Infections
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can be particularly serious in infants and adults. Although measles usually lasts only one to two weeks, it can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). In very young or malnourished patients, blindness can occur. Measles is a common and often fatal disease in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2012 there were 226,722 reported cases of measles worldwide, with 120,000 estimated deaths. Before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, more than a half million cases of measles were reported annually in the United States. Due to intensive efforts to vaccinate preschool aged children, reported cases of measles have declined rapidly over time. The United States has established the goal of eliminating the transmission of endemic measles strains. Surveillance data indicates this goal was reached in 2000.
Rate of Reported Measles Cases, Utah and U.S., 2002-2013
NotesThe U.S. rates are derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. The Utah rates are derived from Utah annual surveillance reports.
- Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Population Estimates: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) through a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau, IBIS Version 2013
DefinitionNumber of reported confirmed cases of measles infections in Utah per 100,000 population per year.
NumeratorNumber of confirmed indigenous measles cases reported in Utah.
DenominatorTotal Utah population per year.
Healthy People Objective IID-1.4:Reduce, eliminate, or maintain elimination of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases: Measles (U.S.-acquired cases)
U.S. Target: 30 cases
State Target: 0 cases per year
How Are We Doing?In 1996, Utah's childhood immunization rate was the lowest in the country. Since that time, Utah's immunization rate has improved. The recent low rates of measles infection in Utah can be attributed both to improved immunization rates, as well as the natural cycle of the disease. However, despite higher immunization rates in Utah than in previous years, there is still more work to be done in this regard. For example, in 2011, Utah experienced an outbreak of measles with 13 cases reported. Measles was introduced into Utah through foreign travel by an unvaccinated adolescent. Two of the 13 cases were known to be vaccinated, and the remaining 11 were either unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or documentation was not found. In August of 2014, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from January 1, 2014 through August 15, 2014 a total 593 cases of measles were reported in the United States resulting from 18 outbreaks. This is the highest number of cases documented in the U.S. since 2000.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?Measles prevalence was virtually non-existent in both Utah and U.S. during 2006-2010. In 2011, Utah experienced an outbreak of measles in which 13 cases were reported. Due to the 2011 measles outbreak, Utah's rate of measles was 0.5 cases per 100,000 persons per year, compared to the U.S. rate of 0.06 cases per 100,000 persons per year in 2011; the U.S. rate reflects the impact of other outbreaks in the U.S. during that time. Utah has not experienced an outbreak since 2011. In 2012 there was one case of measles reported. Zero cases were identified in 2013 and from January 1-August 1, 2014 one case of measles has been reported. In the U.S. 18 measles outbreaks have been reported from January 1-August 1, 2014 resulting in 593 cases. On average there are four measles outbreaks in the U.S. reported annually, with approximately 60 cases total reported nationwide. The majority of outbreaks are related to importation of measles, meaning that unvaccinated U.S. citizens traveled abroad and returned to the U.S. while infectious, spreading the highly contagious disease to other unvaccinated people. According to the June 6, 2014 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), from January 1, 2014 through May 23, 2014, there were a total of 288 cases of measles reported in the U.S. Of these 288 cases, 280 (97%) were import-associated.
What Is Being Done?Persons coming from other countries frequently import the highly contagious measles virus into the U.S. Each imported measles case could start an outbreak, especially if under-vaccinated groups are exposed. Surveillance and prompt investigation of cases and contacts are critical to halt the spread of disease. Surveillance data are used to characterize persons, groups, or areas in which additional efforts are required to reduce disease incidence. Childhood immunization is the most effective weapon against measles infection. The UDOH Immunization Program works with parents, physicians, and local health departments to provide immunization histories for all children under age two and remind parents when vaccinations are due. Since 1996, Utah's immunization rate has improved. Per Communicable Disease Rule R386-702-3, health care providers and laboratories are required to report suspected cases of measles immediately by telephone to the Bureau of Epidemiology or the local health department. The Bureau of Epidemiology assists local health departments with the investigation of cases and implementation of control measures to prevent further cases. The Bureau of Epidemiology conducts ongoing statewide surveillance of measles cases.
Available ServicesPublic health clinics and private provider offices offer vaccine to adults, adolescents, and children in their communities. For general information about immunizations please call the State Immunization Program at 1-800-275-0659 or visit us at our web site: www.immunize-utah.org
Page Content Updated On 10/17/2014, Published on 10/27/2014