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September 1, 1989

Long Past Date Set for Its US Disappearance, Measles Remains a Threat to Many Children

JAMA. 1989;262(9):1156. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430090016005

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AS THE SEVENTH anniversary of its target date for measles elimination in the United States—Oct 1, 1982—nears, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, Ga, is preparing to investigate more than 20 deaths associated with the disease nationwide this year, more than in any year since the early 1970s.

Lauri E. Markowitz, MD, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC's Division of Immunization, says the reasons for so many deaths are not fully understood. Moreover, she says, in the first 6 months of 1989, "we've had close to 90 outbreaks and more than 8000 cases of measles." This represents an increase of more than 300% over 1988.

The 1989 number includes major outbreaks (>100 cases) in Los Angeles, Calif, Houston, Tex, and Chicago, Ill, and lesser outbreaks in other areas across the country. At JAMA deadline, minor outbreaks were ongoing in at least half of the 50 states.

"It's very frustrating," Markowitz