Kansas City Reports Measles Costs of $4,875 per Person

Measles management costs range to over $25,000 per patient

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Measles, which was declared ‘eliminated’ in the USA during 2000, may be costing state and local governments more than they have budgeted.

Recently, the Kansas City Star reported, 2 measles outbreaks in Kansas and Missouri cost taxpayer resources $170,000 to treat 35 measles cases.

That cost is approximately $4,875 per measles case.

But, this $170,000 cost may not include the full economic impact of measles. This is because measles is very contagious, infecting 90 percent of susceptible individuals.

And, the number of infected contacts a single patient can generate increases once a measles outbreak begins.

As previous measles outbreaks have shown, fully treating measles can be costly.

In 2011, a study analyzed 16 outbreaks with 107 confirmed cases. The estimated number of identified measles contacts ranged from 8,936 to 17,450 requiring from 42,635 to 83,133 personnel hours.

Overall, the total economic burden on local and state public health institutions that dealt with measles outbreaks during 2011 ranged from an estimated $2.7 million to $5.3 million US dollars.

Which means, these 107 measles cases divided by the $2.7 million in total economic burden equals $25,233 per case.

Another measles case in January 2008 of an intentionally unvaccinated 7-year-old boy who was unknowingly infected with measles returned from Switzerland, resulting in a very large outbreak in San Diego, California.

This one boy resulted in 839 exposed persons. A vigorous outbreak response halted the outbreak at a net public-sector cost of $10,376 per case.

Separately, in a 2005 New England Journal of Medicine study, approximately 500 persons attended a gathering with the index patient. During the 6 weeks after the gathering, a total of 34 cases of measles were confirmed.

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This study estimated costs of containing the disease were at least $167,685, including $113,647 at a hospital with 1 infected employee.

Given the number of confirmed measles cases in the USA over the past 16 months, state and local health departments may need to increase 2018/19 funding.

From January 1 to April 21, 2018, 63 people from 16 states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas) reported to have measles to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Moreover, several European countries have reported measles outbreaks during 2018, led by Ukraine with 19,249 cases. 

Which means, the current worldwide measles outbreak may continue until ‘herd-immunity’ vaccination rates are achieved, says the CDC.

Measles can be prevented with MMR vaccine which protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella.

CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.

The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.

In the USA, two approved measles vaccines are available, MMR-II and ProQuad.

International travelers can request a vaccine appointment with a pharmacy at this link.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information, and vaccine discounts can be found here. 

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.