She explained, "Before the measles vaccine, this was an infectious disease that was pretty significant in this country. Several million people got sick every year, (it) caused about 500 deaths in the U.S. per year. In 2000, the CDC reported we had really had a victory over measles because of the vaccine, and it was pretty much 99 percent eradicated. When we see cases today in this country, they are almost entirely brought in from other parts of the world, and the people who get sick here are those who are largely not vaccinated."
Ashton said the CDC reports 98 cases in 23 states. She noted the federal organization has not been pointing out which states are involved. No deaths have been reported.
The illness, Ashton said, is highly contagious. Among those exposed to Measles, 90 percent will get sick (if not vaccinated).
"It's transmitted via respiratory particles," she said. "People sneeze and cough, those particles become aerosolized or airborne. It can also live on dry surfaces for two hours. So it is highly, highly contagious."
She continued, "In about one-of-three people who get sick with measles, they will develop complications that can potentially be not only very serious but life-threatening. We're talking about pneumonia, ear infections that can rarely even cause deafness, or something like diarrhea. Again, the very young and adults over the age of 20, (are) most susceptible to those complications."