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Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can cause serious health complications. About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized and globally 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care. Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 146,000 people, mostly children, die from the disease each year. Yet measles can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.

Due to a highly effective vaccination program, measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000.  However, in the past 5 years, global progress towards measles elimination has slowed and in some regions gains have been lost.  Recent outbreaks show how easily measles can be brought into the U.S. and other parts of the Americas by unvaccinated travellers who contract the virus while in other regions of the world.  Progress can continue and measles elimination can be achieved, but it will require commitment from each country and support of efforts in all parts of the globe.

In this session of Grand Rounds we discussed the ways in which increased focus on field and laboratory surveillance, innovative vaccination solutions and investment of resources can accelerate progress towards the elimination of measles worldwide.

Beyond the Data

Dr. Phoebe Thorpe and Dr. Peter Strebel discuss the ongoing challenges to eliminating measles worldwide. Measles is highly infectious, but it can be prevented with financial and political commitment by all countries around the globe.

Individuals should know that:

  • One case of measles anywhere poses risks everywhere,
  • On-time, routine vaccination is safe and effective and
  • Widespread vaccination coverage is key to elimination.

Presented By

James L. Goodson, MPH
Senior Measles Scientist,
Accelerated Disease Control and VPD Surveillance Branch,
Global Immunization Division

Center for Global Health, CDC
Paul A. Rota, PhD
Measles Team Lead, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Herpesviruses Laboratory Branch,
Division of Viral Diseases

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
Desirée Pastor, MD, MPH
Regional Immunization Advisor, Pan American Health Organization,
Regional Offices for the Americas

World Health Organization
Peter M. Strebel, MBChB, MPH
Accelerated Disease Control Lead, Expanded Programme on Immunization
World Health Organization

Facilitated By

John Iskander, MD, MPH
Scientific Director
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH
Deputy Scientific Director
Susan Laird, MSN, RN
Communications Director

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  • Page last reviewed: February 28, 2018
  • Page last updated: February 28, 2018
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Science
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication
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