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March 14, 1986

Transmission of Measles in Medical Settings: 1980 Through 1984

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Immunization, Center for Prevention Services (Drs Davis, Orenstein, Frank, Preblud, Bart, Williams, and Hinman), and the Division of Field Services, Epidemiology Program Office (Dr Sacks), Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta; the Florida State Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, Tallahassee (Dr Sacks); and the California Department of Health Services, Berkeley (Dr Dales). Dr Frank is now with the Sterling-Winthrop Research Institute, Rensselaer, NY. Dr Sacks is now with the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Atlanta. Dr Bart is now with the Agency for International Development, Department of State, Washington, DC. Dr Williams is now with the New Jersey State Department of Health, Trenton.

JAMA. 1986;255(10):1295-1298. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370100089023

For the five-year period 1980 through 1984, a total of 241 persons with measles in 30 states were identified as probably having acquired their infection in a medical facility. The proportion of all measles cases acquired in medical settings increased from 0.7% for 1980 through 1982 to 2.9% for 1983 and 1984. Seventy-six percent of cases were found in patients or visitors, and 24% in personnel at the medical facility where transmission occurred. The highest proportion of cases occurred in children less than 5 years of age (54.3%), followed by persons 25 to 29 years of age (14.7%). Of 120 cases for whom the pattern of transmission was known, patient-to-patient spread (50.0%) and patient-to-staff spread (36.7%) were most common. Medical personnel rarely transmitted disease to others. More attention needs to be given to methods of preventing spread of measles in medical facilities, such as isolation precautions, postexposure prophylaxis of potential contacts (vaccination or immune globulin), and ensuring that medical personnel are immune to measles.

(JAMA 1986;255:1295-1298)