CHICAGO -- An estimated 200,000 people from across the U.S. mingled in the Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis this month, and at least one of them was infected with measles -- a highly contagious virus. It is a reminder of how important it is to maintain high immunization rates against vaccine-preventable diseases, said Robert W. Block, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
“Measles spreads so easily that just being in the same room with an infected person can cause an un-immunized person to become infected,” said Dr. Block. “You simply cannot predict when you or your child will come into contact with someone who has a vaccine-preventable disease. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your family is vaccinated. We hope that high immunization rates will protect those in the crowd at Indianapolis.”
The Indiana State Department of Health is tracking two confirmed and two probable cases of measles in the state, including the individual who attended Super Bowl festivities Feb. 3.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children be vaccinated against measles at age 1, and again at 4-6 years of age before entering kindergarten. More than 90 percent of U.S. children meet this recommendation, according to the CDC.
“The vaccine is very effective, which is why we don’t see many cases of measles in the U.S. today,” said Dr. Block. “But the virus is still out there, and people who are not immunized -- including infants who are too young to be immunized -- are at risk. Measles can be deadly. High rates of immunization in the community help to slow the transmission of diseases like measles, protecting everyone.”
Unvaccinated visitors from other countries can transmit measles virus to unvaccinated people in the U.S. Americans who are not vaccinated have also picked up the virus while traveling abroad, and returned home to infect other people in the U.S. The CDC recorded more than 200 cases of measles in the U.S. in 2011, including outbreaks in Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
More information from the American Academy of Pediatrics for parents on measles and measles vaccine is available here.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.