A preventable disease could rear its head in the United States again this year, causing scores of hospitalizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning of the possibility of a measles outbreak, spurred by Americans returning from this summer’s Olympic Games in London.
U.S. measles cases had dropped dramatically by the early 2000s, but have ticked up again largely because a small number of parents have refused to vaccinate children based on since-discredited reports of a link between vaccinations and autism.
Andrew Wakefield, the primary author of a 1998 medical journal paper that claimed the vaccine-autism link, was banned from practicing medicine in 2010 when it was revealed he had faked his research.
Vaccination rates in England, where the Olympics are being held, “remain too low to fully control the disease,” according to USA Today.
Combine that with the fact that thousands of people will be converging on London from other countries with varied vaccination rates, and you have a recipe for a serious outbreak here.
Last year saw a spike in measles in the United States.
Of the 214 reported cases, 68 people were hospitalized; that 30 percent hospitalization rate demonstrates the seriousness of the disease.
The fact that the CDC anticipates measles being brought back from the Olympics– too pricey a trip for many Americans– shows that well-off, educated people are among those who are unfortunately deciding not to vaccinate their children.
Health experts are urging travelers to get vaccinated before leaving. Given the risk of measles rising again in the U.S., though, everyone would be wise to take that step.–Columbus Dispatch