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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 2014 there were 267,582 reported cases of measles worldwide, with 114,900 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., 2006-2015


The 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.

Data Sources

  • 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 2015


Number of reported confirmed cases of measles infections in Utah per 100,000 population per year.


Number of confirmed indigenous measles cases reported in Utah.


Total Utah population per year.

Healthy People Objective IID-1.4:

Reduce measles cases (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 2014, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a total of 668 cases of measles were reported in the United States resulting from 23 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. After the 2011 measles outbreak, Utah's case count decreased to one case in 2012 and zero cases in 2013. In December of 2014, Utah experienced an outbreak of measles in which 3 cases were identified and associated with a national outbreak out of Orange County, California. Due to the 2014 measles outbreak, Utah's rate of measles was 0.10 cases per 100,000 persons, compared to the U.S. rate of 0.21 cases per 100,000 persons in 2014; the U.S. rate reflects the impact of other outbreaks in the U.S. during that time. In the U.S., 23 measles outbreaks were reported in 2014 resulting in 668 cases. There were 383 cases attributed to one outbreak in Ohio that primarily affected unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio. On average there are four measles outbreaks in the U.S. reported annually, with a median of 62 cases 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 a September 26, 2016 CDC surveillance report, there was a decrease in cases from 667 (0.21 cases per 100,000 population) in 2014 to a total of 189 (0.06 cases per 100,000 population) cases of measles reported in the U.S. in 2015. Of these 80% (117) of the cases were linked to the California Outbreak. The source of the infection was unable to be confirmed, however, the outbreak is thought to be import-associated. Following the national trend, measles cases in Utah decreased from 0.10 cases per 100,000 population in 2014 to 0.06 cases per 100,000 population in 2015.

What Is Being Done?

Travelers to foreign endemic 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. The Bureau of Epidemiology conducts ongoing statewide surveillance of measles cases. 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. When measles is reported the Bureau of Epidemiology assists local health departments with the investigation of cases and implementation of control measures to prevent further cases. Control measures were implemented by public health during the 2014 measles outbreak, limiting the spread of the disease. The control methods used to for this response resulted in the post exposure treatment of 29 children too young to be immunized, over 600 MMR containing vaccines administered by the local health department in the most affected health jurisdiction, and the voluntary quarantine of 269 susceptible community members.

Available Services

Public 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: []
Page Content Updated On 10/03/2016, Published on 11/18/2016
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Content updated: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 15:48:04 MST