Why Are There So Many More Measles Cases This Year?

By Alana Gomez, WBZ-TV
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For The Family

BOSTON (CBS) – With the total number of statewide measles cases already at nearly six times the annual average, doctors fear the rise will only continue.

Locally, two reported cases this week brings Massachusetts’ number to 17. Nationally, there are 118 people who’ve been infected. That is the highest number since 1996.

WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports.

The trend is worrisome to local doctors, who say the spread can be contained if more parents vaccinate their children.

But, pediatricians say they spend more and more time convincing parents of the necessity of immunizing their kids.

“’Do vaccines cause autism,’ and that’s always the question,” said Dr. Ben Kruskal, a pediatrician and director of infection control at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates.

Dr. Kruskal says extensive research in the U.S. and internationally has repeatedly proved the safety of vaccinations. He says the benefits outweigh any risks by far. Dr. Kruskal is also worried that along with an outbreak of measles we will see other diseases pop up that are completely preventable.

“Many communities across the country where parents have raised major concerns and created lots of local furor over vaccines have low vaccination rates and have had lots of outbreaks of infectious diseases, including for example, whooping cough,” said Dr. Kruskal.

Health experts say there is no link between the local cases and they don’t know the source. Dr. Kruskal worries that could mean there are more cases out there that haven’t been reported yet.

“It’s so distressing, it shouldn’t be happening, we have tools to prevent this,” said Dr. Kruskal.

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