In the year 2000, measles was officially eradicated in the United States, but public health officials say this outbreak shows how the serious illness can be imported from other places.
“Measles is just a plane ride away from the rest of the world,” says Dr. Kathleen Harriman, Chief of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases division of the California Department of Public Health.
She says measles vaccination rates had been decreasing in the state in recent years. But this school year, there was a bump up in the parents who decided to inoculate their kids.
“It’s very important to keep the population in the United States immune to measles so we don’t see large outbreaks happen as such did in western Europe,” says Harriman.
The current measles cases involve people under the age of 21 who live in Alameda County and several areas in Southern California.
About half of them were old enough to be vaccinated but had not been.