Undervaccinated US population adds tinder for blaze of measles outbreaks

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A nurse draws a dose of mumps-measles-rubella, or MMR, vaccine. Image: Mike Hutmacher/AP

U.S. health officials are putting all they have into extinguishing measles outbreaks, many of them raging in cities throughout the country.

The reality, though, is that there is a growing amount of tinder afoot, a fact that will make it increasing difficult to battle these blazes, experts fear.

In recent years, the percentage of children who have received one or more doses of measles-containing vaccine has remained relatively stable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that stability masks the fact that, over the past few decades the overall size of the population that is either unvaccinated or undervaccinated has been growing.

With each cohort of kids born to parents who distrust or fear vaccines, the number of people susceptible to the measles virus expands. At the same time, there is a growing population of adults who were children in the early days of measles vaccination whose immunity may have worn off.

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Introduce the spark of the highly contagious measles virus into these populations and the tinder will be set ablaze.

On [March 29] the CDC announced that the number of cases so far this year has topped 700, the highest rate in a quarter century.

Read full, original post: As measles cases spread, the tinder for more outbreaks is growing

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