CDC reports measles cases escalating in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported escalating cases of the measles in the U.S after it was thought to be eradicated in 2000.

"It is heartbreaking to watch something happen that is completely preventable," Alabama at Birmingham professor of pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics' liaison to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices David Kimberlin said. "This would not be happening if people trusted us and got their measles vaccinations. Someone eventually will die from measles, leaving many asking why it couldn't have been prevented, but it can be."

Measles is preventable through the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. The measles is a highly contagious disease and prior to the creation of the vaccine tens of thousands would be hospitalized from the disease, with approximately 1,000 deaths annually in the U.S. alone.

Measles has not been eradicated in other parts of the world and it is believed that international travelers are bringing the disease back to the U.S. Kimberlin said many communities have not received the MMR vaccine, creating dangerous conditions since the reemergence of the disease.

The CDC reported 159 cases of the measles between January 1 and August 24. Ninety-nine percent of cases were related to international travel and 82 percent of cases occurred in unvaccinated persons.

"It is like tossing a lit match on dry grass," Kimberlin said. "The message to take home from this is quite simple: get vaccinated against all vaccine-preventable diseases and be protected from them, or do not get vaccinated and run the very-real risk of getting those diseases and possibly dying."