US measles cases reach 1,109 as studies point to early vaccination

Measles vaccination in baby
Baby getting measles shot

UNICEF Ethiopia, Ayene / Flickr cc

Today the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 14 more measles cases, raising the year's total number of cases to 1,109, as two studies conducted in other nations highlight some advantages of early vaccination of babies.

Twenty-eight states have reported cases this year, but most cases have been part of large outbreaks. The CDC is tracking four ongoing outbreaks (3 or more related cases) in New York's Rockland County; New York City; Butte County, California; and Washington state.

"These outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring," the CDC said.

Last year, the CDC recorded 372 measles cases, and officials confirmed 120 in 2017. This year's case count is the highest in the United States since 1992, and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

As of Jul 1, New York City has noted 619 cases—10 more than the previous week—in a measles outbreak that began last September in predominantly Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Queens.

Studies point toward earlier vaccination

Currently the CDC and the World Health Organization recommend that all children receive two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, with the first dose administered between 12 and 15 months. But the new studies raise the possibility of earlier vaccination.

A Pakistani research group published in BMC Infectious Diseases a study that showed infants up to the age of 6 months had protective maternal antibodies against measles, but levels drop sharply after birth.

The researchers said maternal antibodies are transferred through the placenta and through breast milk and colostrum.

"Breast feeding provides early protection against measles however, these acquired levels drop down to low levels immediately after birth and then after 06 months," the authors write. "Based on the results of this study, we urge further consideration to the possibility of earlier measles vaccination administration, such as at 6 months, to attempt to save more infants from this fatal infection."

A South African group published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases alsofound that early two-dose measles vaccination at 6 and 12 months of age was safe and induced antibody responses in both HIV-exposed and HIV-unexposed infants.

The authors say the vaccine-derived immune response "could partly offset the early loss of maternally derived antibodies in infants born to predominantly measles-vaccinated mothers."

See also:

Jul 8 CDC update

Jul 1 NYC Health update

Jul 5 BMC Infect Dis study

Jul 6 J Infect Dis study

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