The Buffalo News, August 22, morning edition (Atlanta AP)
Measles cases in the U.S. are at the highest level in more than a decade, and nearly half of those involve children whose parents rejected vaccination, health officials reported Thursday.
Doctors are troubled by the trend away from vaccination which has been fueled by unfounded fears that vaccines may cause autism. The number of cases is still small, 131, but that's only for the first seven months of the year. There were 42 cases for all of last year.
"We're seeing a lot more spread. That is concerning to us," said Dr. Jane Seward, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pediatricians are frustrated, saying they are having to spend more time convincing parents the shot is safe.
The CDC's review found that a number of cases involved home-schooled children who are not required to get the vaccines.
Measles, best known for a red skin rash, is a potentially deadly, highly infectious virus that spreads through contact with a sneezing, coughing, infected person.
None of the 131 patients died, but 15 were hospitalized.
Of this year's total, 122 were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status.
Some were unvaccinated because the children were under 1 - too young to get their first measles shot.
In 63 of those cases - almost all of them 19 or under - the patient or their parents refused the shots for philosophical or religious reasons, the CDC reported.