Full text, video and question and answer session for journalists all avalable at http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/t1205-measles-threat.html
Extracts from key note speakers at the conference
The 50th anniversary of measles vaccine is indeed a time to celebrate the global impact of this highly effective vaccine. Worldwide use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 90 percent reduction in measles deaths, and that s down from the more than 2 million measles deaths that occurred each year during the pre-vaccine era. In addition, all countries in the Americas have eliminated measles since 2002 and rubella since 2009 through the use of combined vaccines. So because of the success the global vaccine action plan now targets measles elimination, together with rubella elimination in five of the six world health organization regions by 2020. The vision of a world without measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome has been taken out by The Measles and Rubella Initiative. The five-core partner organizations in this initiative, the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization use complementary strength to support vaccination and the new surveillance efforts. Since 2001, The Measles and Rubella Initiative has supported vaccination in 60 countries, reaching more than one billion children, and developed a global laboratory network for the diagnosis and identification of both measles and rubella viruses. Recently the GAVI alliance has joined the fight against measles and rubella by committing over $750 million to support low income countries.
However, despite this progress, measles remains a formidable enemy and recent setbacks have included outbreaks of measles in developing countries such as Nigeria and Pakistan, where immunization systems are weak, as well as outbreaks in industrialized countries, for example in Western Europe, due to misconceptions about vaccines. These outbreaks are leading to greater political commitment and community acceptance of vaccination. The success of current efforts to eliminate measles will depend on country commitment to develop strong immunization programs and resource mobilization at all levels, including by international partners. With this kind of commitment, we can achieve the vision of a world without measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome.
We have a new study out today in JAMA Pediatrics that shows that not only did the U.S. and this entire hemisphere eliminate measles ten years ago, but we ve been able to maintain elimination for a full decade. Elimination, though, is not eradication, and as long as there is measles anywhere in the world, there is a threat of measles anywhere else in the world, and that s the case here as well. We have seen an increasing number of cases in recent years coming from a wide variety of countries. Over the year we ve had 52 separate known importations with about half of them coming from Europe, where a very large number of U.S. travelers go and return.
Now, just to spend a moment thinking about some of the lessons that measles and measles vaccinations teach us, one is, of course, that we re all connected by the air we breathe, by the water we drink, by the food we eat. And just as any virus anywhere is only a plane ride away, measles anywhere is really potentially the cause of an outbreak here, as we ve seen substantially in the past year. Pathogens cross borders effectively, and that s why we need to improve further on our support and partnership with the World Health Organization and with countries around the world to better find, stop and prevent threats to health. That will make for a safer United States and a safer world, because we really are interconnected.