Background: Despite elimination of endemic measles in the United States (US), outbreaks associated with imported measles continue to occur. In 2007, the initiation of a multistate measles outbreak was associated with an imported case occurring in a participant at an international youth sporting event held in Pennsylvania.
Methods: Case finding and contact tracing were conducted. Control measures included isolating ill persons and administering postexposure prophylaxis to exposed persons without documented measles immunity. Laboratory evaluation of suspected cases and contacts included measles serologic testing, viral culture, detection of viral RNA by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, and viral genotyping.
Results: The index case occurred in a child from Japan aged 12 years. Contact tracing among 1250 persons in 8 states identified 7 measles cases; 5 (71%) cases occurred among persons without documented measles vaccination. Epidemiologic and laboratory investigation supported a single chain of transmission, linking the outbreak to contemporaneous measles virus genotype D5 transmission in Japan. Of the 471 event participants, 193 (41%) lacked documentation of presumed measles immunity, 94 (49%) of 193 were US-resident adults, 19 (10%) were non-US-resident adults (aged >18 years), and 80 (41%) were non-US-resident children.
Discussion: Measles outbreaks associated with imported disease are likely to continue in the US. Participants in international events, international travelers, and persons with routine exposure to such travelers might be at greater risk of measles. To reduce the impact of imported cases, high measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine coverage rates should be maintained throughout the US, and support should continue for global measles control and elimination.