U.S. Multi-State Measles Outbreak Advisory from the CDC

On Friday, January 23, 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Alert Network issued an advisory regarding the multi-state measles outbreak which began in California in December. CDC reminds us that measles is a highly contagious, acute viral illness which can cause severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. It is transmitted by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing; infected people are contagious from four days before their rash starts through four days afterwards. After an infected person leaves a location, the virus remains viable for up to two hours on surfaces and in the air.

Measles was declared eliminated (i.e., interruption of year-round endemic transmission) in the U.S. in 2000, because of high population immunity achieved by high two-dose measles vaccine coverage and a highly effective measles vaccine. However, measles is still endemic in many parts of the world, and outbreaks can occur in the U.S. when unvaccinated groups are exposed to imported measles virus. This multi-state outbreak underscores the ongoing risk of importation of measles, the need for high measles vaccine coverage, and the importance of a prompt and appropriate public health response to measles cases and outbreaks.

Read the full Health Alert from the CDC, including recommendations for health care providers, here.

We also remind you of ACHA’s stance on the importance of vaccines as set forth in our ACHA Statement in Support of Vaccine Use to Promote Health and Prevent Disease:

Immunizations offer safe and effective protection from vaccine-preventable diseases. The United States is experiencing re-emergence of these diseases, in part due to factors such as un-immunized and under-immunized persons and global travel. The American College Health Association (ACHA) strongly supports the use of vaccines to protect the health of our individual students and our campus communities. In recognition of the vital role that vaccine coverage plays in community immunity (herd immunity), ACHA discourages nonmedical exemptions to required vaccines. Best practices for institutions of higher education include following Recommendations for Institutional Prematriculation Immunizations (RIPI) guidelines, encouraging students who request nonmedical waivers to be counseled by a health service clinician, and considering exclusion of unimmunized students from school during outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Adopted by the ACHA Executive Committee on behalf of the Board of Directors on April 15, 2014.