Keeping Measles A Rarity

Although measles has become a rare disease in the United States, children need the proper vaccinations, reports CBS This Morning Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that the contagious and potentially fatal disease has been nearly wiped out in the United States. Only 100 cases of the measles, a record low, were recorded last year. And all but 29 were linked to infections that were brought into the country from abroad, the CDC said.

However, health experts warn that parents still need to make sure their children are fully protected against measles when they go back to school.

Not all American children may be getting every dose of vaccine they need. All children require the first dose between ages of 12 and 15 months, and 90 percent of American kids are getting this.

Another dose is needed at 4 to 6 years of age, but some children may be missing this vaccination, since only 55 percent of schools require their students to get this second dose before they start school.

If your child hasn't has the second dose, they are at risk for getting measles.

Measles can be a deadly disease. Between 1989 and 1991, 120 kids died from measles. Researchers said the outbreak was fueled by foreign carriers infecting preschool-age children who had not been immunized and youngsters who did not develop immunity from a single dose of the vaccine.

Most states now require that children be immunized with two doses of vaccine.

Before a vaccine became available in 1963, measles was a rite of passage among American children. A red rash would spread over their bodies. They would develop a high fever. Severe cases could cause blindness or brain damage, or even death.

At its peak in 1941, measles infected 894,134 Americans and killed 2,279, according to the Public Health Service.