The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the United States is on track to have more measles cases than any year in more than a decade. The CDC is linking many of the U.S. cases to European countries, where there's a big outbreak.
Europe, and in particular France, has been hit hard by measles. More than 6,500 cases have been reported in 33 nations. International health officials are blaming it on a failure to vaccinate all children. International health inspectors posted an alert this week, urging travelers to get the recommended two doses of vaccine before flying overseas.
"The risk of getting infection is very high," said Dr. Cuauthemoc Ruiz Matus, an immunization expert with the Pan American Health Organization.
The CDC warns that the virus spreads easily through the air and in closed rooms. Infected droplets can linger for up to two hours after a sick person leaves.
Since 2003, there have been no measles-related deaths reported in the United States, where children have been getting vaccinated against the virus for almost 50 years. Before the vaccine, nearly all children contracted measles by their 15th birthday, and epidemics cycled through the nation every two to three years. In those days, up to 500 Americans died from measles each year. Vaccination campaigns reduced the toll dramatically, and today, approximately 90 percent of U.S. children are protected from measles.