Lessons Learned from the 2005 Indiana Measles Outbreak

Better communication about adverse effects of vaccines needed

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Important lessons can be learned from a 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana that can help sustain the elimination of this disease in the United States, according to a case series investigation in the Aug. 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The outbreak started on May 15, 2005, when an unvaccinated 17-year-old girl returned to Indiana after a visit to Romania where she had become infected with the measles. The home-schooled teen attended a large gathering the day after her return. Amy A. Parker, M.S.N., M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues report that 34 cases were confirmed in the ensuing six weeks. Of confirmed cases, 94 percent of patients were not vaccinated and there were two cases of vaccine failure.

Containment measures were initiated after 20 people were already considered contagious, but the measles remained confined mostly to children whose parents did not want them to get vaccinated due to concerns about the vaccine's safety. High vaccination rates in the surrounding community and the low rate of vaccine failure staved off an epidemic.

Going forward, better communication about the adverse effects of vaccines are needed to sustain the elimination of measles in the United States, which was declared measles-free in 2000, the study authors conclude.

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