There is a ‘reasonable chance’ the US will lose its measles elimination status in FIVE WEEKS, CDC official warns
- Head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s infectious disease department, Dr Nancy Messonnier, told CNN the US could lose its status
- In 2000 the WHO deemed measles effectively ‘eliminated’ in the US
- There have been 1,215 cases of the highly-contagious disease this year – a record since 1992
- Anti-vaccination sentiments are threatening herd immunity
- If the outbreak continues in the US the WHO may revoke elimination status as early as October
The US may well lose its measles elimination status, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials revealed Tuesday.
‘There is a reasonable chance that sometimes in October the US will lose elimination status,’ CDC director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr Nancy Messonnier, told CNN.
In 2000, measles was designated effectively eliminated in the US by the World Health Organization.
But on the heels of anti-vaccination sentiments, the disease has made a resurgence and, so far this year, there have been 1,215 cases of measles in the US – the greatest number since 1992.
If measles continues to spread and vaccination rates continue to drop the US is in serious danger of losing disease elimination status from the WHO come October, an official said (file)f
‘Losing the elimination status of measles is an embarrassment, public health will be embarrassed – it’s like having a black eye,’ Dr William Shaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University and CDC adviser told CNN.
To obtain elimination status from the World Health Organization (WHO), a country must demonstrate that there are zero or so few cases of a disease each year that it is unlikely to be transmitted.
After the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine came into widespread use across the US, transmission and infection rates were so low that the WHO deemed measles eliminated.
But since then, its become more common again.
Misinformation campaigns and insular, often highly religious groups have fanned the flames of anti-vaccine sentiment in the US.
Much fear over the MMR vaccine stems from a since-debunked 1998 study in which Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues claimed they’d found a link between the shot and autism.
Celebrities as well as Russian trolls and bots have continued to cling to the study, however, and have pushed the disproven idea through social media channels.
So vaccination rates have fallen precipitously in the US, particularly in conservative and religious communities like the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Wiliamsburg in Brooklyn, New York.
Due largely to the Wililamsburg outbreak, New York has 1,046 out of the nation’s 1,215 total cases this year..
If less than about 95 percent of the population is unvaccinated, so-called ‘herd immunity’ will fail and those who are too young, too old or who have immune systems too sick for it to be safe for them to get shots will no longer be protected from exposure by the collective immunity of their communities.
US vaccination rates have been creeping worryingly in that direction as measles has continued to spread in the US, particularly since last October.
‘If that continues to the one year point – bang they take away elimination card,’ Dr Shaffner told CNN.
And he worries that could pose a public health problem not just to the US, but to the world.
‘I’m concerned it will reduce the motivation of other health ministers around the world in trying to eliminate measles in their countries,’ he said.
‘They’ll say, “gee, if the US couldn’t maintain it, why should we work so hard on this?”