(RxWiki News) Michigan is joining the ranks of other states reporting cases of measles discovered this year. The disease has been largely eradicated in the US, but it remains a problem abroad and still poses a threat to people without immunity.
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the state has reported two cases of measles and is investigating another possible case.
The Michigan cases add to already high US totals for the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported higher than normal cases of measles across the US during 2013.
"Check your vaccination status with your doctor."
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that involves symptoms like fever, runny nose, cough and rash. Around one in 10 childhood cases results in ear infection, around one in 20 results in pneumonia, around one in 1,000 results in encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and around one or two in 1,000 results in death, says CDC.
According to CDC, measles was declared "eliminated" from the US in 2000 — meaning that the disease no longer spreads year round throughout the country. However, measles is still common in other parts of the world.
Many US cases of measles develop when a person who is not immune (meaning they have not been vaccinated against the disease or previously had the disease) becomes infected abroad and brings the disease back to the US, often spreading it to others in the process.
MDCH reported that the two confirmed Michigan cases occurred in infants who were exposed to the disease while traveling internationally. Both patients have recovered.
"The first of two routine childhood measles vaccine doses is given at 12 months of age, but current recommendations call for infants as young as 6 months who will be traveling outside of the US to be vaccinated against measles," explained MDCH. "This recommendation means that parents can begin protecting their children as early as 6 months of age if they have plans to travel internationally."
CDC reported that from January 1 to August 24, 2013, 159 cases of measles have been reported in the US, which is up from the annual average of 60 cases. CDC estimated that around 26 percent of these patients were exposed to measles while in other countries.
In a MDCH news release, Matthew Davis, MD, Chief Medical Executive with MDCH, stressed the seriousness of measles cases and the importance of prevention measures.
"Measles is highly contagious and is by no means a trivial disease. It can result in hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis and death," said Dr. Davis. “We need to achieve and sustain high levels of vaccination in Michigan and across the United States. Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles outbreaks from occurring and to prevent this disease from spreading widely in our communities.”