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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Back to the Future: Measles and mumps make a striking comeback, cause turmoil in unsuspecting hospitals

Once virtually eradicated through routine immunization, measles and mumps are making a striking comeback in the U.S. in 2014 with a record number of post-vaccination era measles cases and several large mumps outbreaks on college campuses.

The reemergence of these once-common childhood diseases presents an unwelcome new challenge for infection preventionists, as the introduction of even a single undiagnosed case can set off chaos and then laborious follow-up of exposed patients and health care workers.

Within the first six months of 2014, there were more than 500 confirmed cases of measles, including more than 400 in Ohio, reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In the same period, around 800 people were reported to have mumps in the U.S. with more than half of the cases occurring in Ohio. The CDC notes specific outbreaks at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, and Fordham University in The Bronx, NY. The CDC reports that about 70% of the people who had confirmed measles in 2014 were unvaccinated, and nearly all of the cases originated in one of 18 countries, including the Philippines, which is experiencing a large, ongoing measles outbreak that has infected more than 6,000 people this year.

--Melinda Young