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The cost of the worst measles outbreak of this century



Fighting the measles outbreak

The Fox News medical correspondent, dr. Marc Siegel, on the importance of measles vaccine for ending the growing outbreak.

The US is currently struggling with the worst measles outbreak of the century – according to the CDC estimates, there are nearly 700 cases this year, and it's only in April – and without end, the economic cost of the highly contagious and potentially deadly Virus continue to rise.

"It's expensive for the public health system," Dr. Nate Smith, director and state health officer of the Arkansas Department of Health, told FOX Business. "The real costs, however, are not all financial, and they are borne by individuals and families."

Although Arkansas had no confirmed measles cases this year, Smith said the state had carefully analyzed a case in 201

8 to determine how much it cost the health department. The result? An amazing $ 47,962.

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While Smith, who also co-chairs the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the Association of State and Territorial Health Commissioners, emphasizes that every case and every outbreak is unique – and therefore the cost of a case is not uniform – he said nearly $ 50,000 in the US is "fairly consistent" (based on a report in the medical journal Vaccine). Extrapolating this number for the confirmed 695 individual cases in 22 states, the economic costs amount to about 30 million US dollars.

Measles can cause fever, coughing and rashes, but also blindness and permanent neurological problems, Smith said, noting the importance of the "safe and highly effective vaccine". About one in every 1,000 people will die from it.

"And honestly," he said, "you can vaccinate a lot of people for $ 48,000."

Other estimates vary in terms of overall cost: a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in January found that the investigation of two independent measles cases in Denver cost the local health department about $ 70,000 for the investigation.

The reason why measles are so expensive? It is incredibly contagious.

Historically, according to Smith, about 90 percent of those exposed to the measles will become infected if they are not immune or can not be vaccinated. In addition to high communication capability, the virus remains in the air of up to 21 days in a room. For the health departments, this means that they have to study many potential measles cases and follow the person throughout the incubation period to see if they are not sick or are spreading the virus.

"There are not many infections that have such a high level of communication skills," said Smith.

Health ministries need to pool their resources and often derive their energy from daily activities to focus on the measles, said Kevin Sumner, president of the Middle Brook Regional Health Commission in New York, to help deal with the outbreaks Jersey. Sumner also sits on the board of the National Association of County and City Health officials.

Outbreaks also occur due to lower vaccination rates. The World Health Organization says the 93-95 percent threshold is needed for herd immunity, the point at which everyone in the community is protected from the virus. (In 2000, the US completely eradicated measles.) Sumner told FOX Business that the US was in the 70 percent range. And in connection with the lifestyle change such as traveling, the disease spreads more easily.

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"These are costly outbreaks that can be prevented," Sumner said. "And first and foremost, prevention can be achieved through vaccination."


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