U.S. measles tally for 2015 now at 121 cases | Science News

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U.S. measles tally for 2015 now at 121 cases

CDC reports patients in 17 states and D.C.

By
2:42pm, February 11, 2015
baby with measles

SEEING SPOTS   In addition to its trademark rash, measles can cause dangerously high fevers. An outbreak in the U.S. that was jumpstarted in children attending Disneyland continues to generate new cases.

The current measles outbreak in the United States has now touched 17 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced February 9. So far, 121 cases of measles have been reported nationwide in 2015, up from a total of 102 cases a week earlier, CDC data show. The unusual appearance of measles has some researchers pondering limits on avenues for vaccine avoidance and the possibility of earlier vaccination for babies.

The numbers may appear low, but the threat is high, says William Schaffner, an infectious disease physician at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “I’m worried about measles reestablishing itself,” he says. Because of its high infectivity, measles needs only a few unprotected people to gain a foothold in a subpopulation, such as a school or church.

The current outbreak exemplifies what can happen when herd immunity is weakened. Herd

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