Health Care-Associated Measles Outbreak in the United States After an Importation: Challenges and Economic Impact
ABSTRACT On 12 February 2008, an infected Swiss traveler visited hospital A in Tucson, Arizona, and initiated a predominantly health care-associated measles outbreak involving 14 cases. We investigated risk factors that might have contributed to health care-associated transmission and assessed outbreak-associated hospital costs.
Epidemiologic data were obtained by case interviews and review of medical records. Health care personnel (HCP) immunization records were reviewed to identify non-measles-immune HCP. Outbreak-associated costs were estimated from 2 hospitals.
Of 14 patients with confirmed cases, 7 (50%) were aged ≥ 18 years, 4 (29%) were hospitalized, 7 (50%) acquired measles in health care settings, and all (100%) were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status. Of the 11 patients (79%) who had accessed health care services while infectious, 1 (9%) was masked and isolated promptly after rash onset. HCP measles immunity data from 2 hospitals confirmed that 1776 (25%) of 7195 HCP lacked evidence of measles immunity. Among these HCPs, 139 (9%) of 1583 tested seronegative for measles immunoglobulin G, including 1 person who acquired measles. The 2 hospitals spent US$799,136 responding to and containing 7 cases in these facilities.
Suspecting measles as a diagnosis, instituting immediate airborne isolation, and ensuring rapidly retrievable measles immunity records for HCPs are paramount in preventing health care-associated spread and in minimizing hospital outbreak-response costs.
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