The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday warned parents against bringing children under one year old to China, where measles infections have spreading.
Last week, the CDC reported that a five-year-old boy from northern Taiwan came down with fever and rashes early this month. His source of infection was traced to an unvaccinated 11-month-old girl whose mother is a Chinese national. The boy and the girl had shared a room in the hospital, the CDC said.
Since then, five more children under the age of three were reported to have contracted measles.
“Some of the children were in rooms adjacent to the girl, while some had only spent time in a common area [in the hospital],” CDC deputy director-general Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said. “From this, we can see that the measles virus is extremely infectious.”
The CDC said that measles infections had been on the rise in China in recent years. In 2006, only 100,000 cases of measles infection were reported, but that number rose to 110,000 in 2007 and 130,000 last year.
“As of Feb. 1, 4,604 measles infections have been reported in China [this year],” Chou said.
The center said that based on its study of the pattern of the disease in China, measles infections usually peak in spring and subside after July.
“We urge parents of children over one year old to have their kids take the measles, mumps and rubella [MMR] vaccine before going [to China],” he said. “For [parents with] children under one year old, try to delay your travel plans.”
In Taiwan, children are normally given their first dose of the MMR vaccine between the ages of 12 and 15 months and a booster shot during their first year in elementary school.
Chou said that the CDC would follow up the infected cases until the end of next month to make sure that the virus does not spread any further.