Europe is currently facing an outbreak of measles, so US health officials are urging Americans traveling to London for the Olympics to make sure they are up-to-date with measles immunizations.
Health experts explain that huge public events, like the Olympics, increase the likelihood of infection among unvaccinated people and affected individuals might unknowingly carry the disease home.
With the London Olympics opening on July 27 and the Euro 2012 soccer cup beginning on June 8, US health officials are afraid that the disease would travel from the affected regions of Europe to America with returning travellers.
The Director of CDC’s Global Immunization Division, Rebecca Martin, was reported as saying, “Any disease knows no borders. We are concerned about Americans coming back from the Olympics this summer and unknowingly infecting others”.
Last year about 26,000 cases of measles were reported in Europe and about eight deaths related to it were also registered. The disease travelled to America, affecting 214 people, in 2011. Medical experts have blamed the European visitors for causing a fear of the disease in the US. Usually, about 50 cases of measles are reported in the country, but last year the cases were staggeringly high.
In 1998 it has come to light that British autism scare prevented parents from getting their children vaccinated against measles. A widely spread notion about combined vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella injection would hinder the learning capabilities of children has been the main reason. Now these children are at the greatest risk of being affected with measles, although a review proved the claims were based on false scientific evidence.
In the US, more parents are getting their children vaccinated than in recent years, when concerns about vaccinations prompted some parents to opt out. According to the CDC, the rate of vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella was at 91.5% in 2010, up from 90% a year earlier.
Health experts say a community needs about a 95% immunization rate against measles to ensure “herd” immunity. Before routine vaccinations in the United States, the virus killed between 3,000 and 5,000 people each year.