According to the CDC, almost half of all states have reported at least one case of measles so far this year. The numbers include 178 people from 24 states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IL, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NV, OH, OK, PA, SD TX, UT, VA, WA) and the District of Columbia that have been diagnosed with this preventable disease. In fact, this is the second year in a row for measles to be so widespread. In 2014, the U.S. experienced record number 668 cases of measles from 27 states – the greatest number of cases since measles was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000.1

But it’s one recently discovered, and unreported, case that may make the largest impact. The Washington State Department of Health recently announced the death of a young woman this spring from complications of an undetected case of the measles, marking it the first measles death in the US in 12 years.2, 3 According to health officials, the woman was likely exposed to the measles at a community health center that later reported multiple cases of other measles patients.

Patients in healthcare settings are usually more vulnerable to acquiring infections, including those brought in by other patients. In fact, the US Government’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion claims approximately one in every 25 patients has an infection related to hospital care and these infections cost the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars each year and lead to the loss of tens of thousands of lives.4

The World Health Organization (WHO) states measles is a highly contagious, serious disease responsible globally for about 400 deaths every day, 16 deaths every hour. The virus can remain active in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours and it can be transmitted by an infected person from four days prior to the onset of the rash to four days after the rash erupts.5 Although the number of US cases are minimal compared to the global numbers, they are wide-spread and numerous in recent years. The CDC reports the following on measles outbreaks:

  • The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.
  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
  • Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the US.
  • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the US where groups of people are unvaccinated.1

One way to help prevent diseases such as measles from spreading is to make sure all facility staff are trained in aseptic techniques and have documented immunizations on file. If you are located in one of the states listed above, or any state for that matter, make sure your facility has the proper policies in place to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. To help you determine your protocols, IntelliCentrics combines patient safety recommendations from over 70 independent, international accrediting organizations and supports the requirements of 11 federal agencies across all 50 states and 2 territories. Through benchmarking, gives your facility the ability to know exactly how their policies compare and perform against a comprehensive backdrop of local, national, and best practices.

Sources:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html
  2. http://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/2015NewsReleases/15119WAMeaslesRelatedDeath
  3. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/07/02/measles-death-washington-state/29624385/
  4. http://www.health.gov/hcq/prevent_hai.asp
  5. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/

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