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Measles Outbreak Linked to Under-Vaccination

Intentionally unvaccinated boy triggered largest outbreak in San Diego since 1991

MONDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Intentional under-vaccination of children can lead to measles outbreaks, resulting in significant costs to public health agencies, medical systems, and families, according to research published online March 22 in Pediatrics.

David E. Sugerman, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues investigated a 2008 measles outbreak in San Diego triggered by an intentionally unvaccinated 7-year-old boy who was unknowingly infected with measles during a trip to Switzerland.

The researchers found that 839 people were exposed to measles, and that 11 additional cases occurred in unvaccinated children. A vigorous public health response stopped the outbreak beyond the third generation, at a net public-sector cost of $10,376 per case. In addition, quarantine was required for 48 children who were too young to be vaccinated, at an average family cost of $775 per child.

"We believe that the San Diego measles outbreak illustrates the challenges of intentional under-vaccination," the authors conclude. "Measles infects 20 million persons globally each year and the risk for importation continues. Only maintenance of high vaccination coverage can prevent the return of endemic measles transmission in the United States."

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