Tag: measles year

Is January Usually a Big Measles Month?

This year is just getting started, but we already have reports of 86 92 94 measles cases in 7 states, and we haven’t even reached the end of January.

Is that a lot?

Well, let’s compare to previous years…

Is January Usually a Big Measles Month?

Classically, in the pre-vaccine era and in parts of the world that still have endemic measles, rates of this vaccine-preventable disease are highest:

  • during the late winter and early spring (temperate climates, like the United States)
  • after the rainy season (tropical climates)

In the post-vaccine era, measles season seemed to shift a little later, to the spring and early summer. In 1994, for example, when we had 963 cases of measles in the United States, 79% of those cases occurred between April and July.

January is not typically a big month for measles.
January is not typically a big month for measles.

Similarly, in 2011, we had only seen 15% of the year’s total measles cases by April 1. By August 1, that was up to about 70%.

We do see measles cases year round though, we just seem to see more of them in the spring and early summer months. Since most measles outbreaks in the United States are imported from other parts of the world, you might expect that we would see more cases when folks are traveling more and when there are big outbreaks in other parts of the world.

Unfortunately, measles is on the rise in many parts of the world right now.

And that is likely why we have already seen more cases this month than in the entire year of 2000 (86 cases), 2002 (44 cases), 2003 (55 cases), 2004 (37 cases), 2005 (66 cases), 2006 (66 cases), 2007 (55 cases), 2009 (71 cases), 2010 (61 cases), and 2016 (86 cases).

YearJanuary Measles CasesTotal Cases

As you can see from the above table, January is not typically a big month for measles.

But what happened in 2015? There were a lot of measles cases in January, but we ended the year with only a moderate amount of cases.

That January spike was the California outbreak that had begun in December 2014. By February 2015, there were at least 125 cases, but fortunately no other large outbreaks the rest of the year.

Could that happen this year?

Could the ongoing outbreaks in New York and the Pacific Northwest stop and we then end up with only a moderate amount of cases?

Let’s hope so.

Let’s hope that having the second highest number of measles cases in January since 1991 ends up being the only record we set this year.

More on Measles Season

Fun and Games with Measles?

Remember when everyone would get measles and it would be so much fun?

Yeah, I don’t either. Mostly because I grew up in the post-elimination era for measles.

Fun and Games with Measles?

But neither does anyone else who really experienced measles.

Do you typically want to play board games when you have a high fever?

Remember, kids with measles typically have a temperature above 104o F for 4 to 7 days. They also have conjunctivitis, cough, decreased appetite, and are irritable.

The very first measles vaccine was available in 1963 when this article was published.

It should be clear that the article is only talking about the convalescent stage of measles, when you are starting to feel better and your fever has broken.

Anti-vaccine folks, whether they push articles like this, or talk about the Brady Bunch episode, dolls with measles, or children’s books about measles, also don’t mention that during a “measles year,” like they had in Minneapolis in 1963, a lot of people died.

Measles was described as a harmless killer.
Being sick with a “harmless killer” doesn’t sound like much fun.

Were our grandparents afraid of measles, which was described at the time as a “harmless killer?”

You bet they were!

Did they try to distract us with board games until you could make it out of the house and back to school? Why wouldn’t they?

Eleanor Abbot designed Candy Land for kids recovering from paralytic polio in 1948. That doesn’t mean that having paralytic polio was all fun and games, does it?

You know what else isn’t harmless? Folks who push this kind of anti-vaccine propaganda. Don’t let them scare you into keeping your kids unvaccinated and unprotected. Vaccines are safe and necessary.

More on Fun and Games with Measles