Measles cases are at the lowest levels in nearly a century, the government said earlier this month.
There were only 216 cases of the virus from 2001 to 2003 in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported. The 44 cases recorded in 2002 represented the lowest number since the disease became a nationally reportable disease in 1912.
Although there were more than 55,000 cases from 1989 to 1991, vaccinations and other public health efforts helped the CDC declare in 2000 that measles could no longer be found naturally in the U.S.
Now when measles cases are found in the country, they typically can be traced to people who have recently been in Europe and Asia, the CDC said. Nearly 100 cases were imported into the country from 2001 to 2003, including 55 from international travelers and 41 from U.S. residents exposed while abroad.
The U.S. needs not only to continue to have high vaccine coverage against measles but also to help other countries improve measles control to reduce the risk of imported cases, the CDC said.