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Public Health Calls for Renewed Attention to Immunization


Madison, WI, Friday, April 4, 2008- On April 2, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported outbreaks of measles in Arizona, San Diego and New York City. These outbreaks have been traced to travelers from areas currently experiencing ongoing outbreaks (Switzerland and Israel) arriving in the US and coming into contact with unvaccinated individuals.

There have been no cases of measles in Dane County. Unfortunately, we are a short plane ride away from places where measles is rampant. People 50 and older were used to being exposed to classmates with measles. They often do NOT remember that measles caused hospitalizations and deaths. Measles can cause pneumonia, encephalitis, and other serious complications.

During the last measles outbreak in Wisconsin in 1990, out of approximately 1100 cases, 243 required hospitalization, and three died, all children. Nationally that same year there were 50 thousand reported cases, many thousand hospitalizations and 140 deaths.

Measles is extremely easy to spread person to person. In fact, it is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. An infected person coughing in a room could infect a non-immunized person entering that room a day after the cough.

The seriousness and contagiousness of measles stands in contrast to the fact that the disease is completely preventable. The fact that there hasn't been an outbreak of measles in the US in the last ten years is due to the high percentages of adults and children who have been immunized. But that may be changing.

Some parents have heard misleading messages about vaccines and autism or other health problems and have delayed or opted out of immunizing their children.

According to Dr. Thomas Schlenker, director of Public Health for Madison and Dane County, "Measles is still very prevalent in the world outside the United States and is much more serious than most realize. Hundreds of thousands die every year and many more are left permanently disabled. The "MMR" measles- mumps-rubella vaccine used in the US is very safe and effective and protects us all from imported disease. Autism is a heartbreaking affliction that attacks children who are not vaccinated at the same rates as those who are and should not be used as a reason to delay or deny recommended vaccination."

For more information on measles and related vaccinations see:



  • Jeff Golden, 243-0302