HistoryReferences to measles can be found as far back as the 7th century A.D. In fact, the disease was described by Rhazes (Persian philosopher and physician) in the 10th century A.D. as "more dreaded than smallpox." But all that changed in 1963, when the vaccine was first licensed in the United States.
(Click History of Measles for more information on the history of this disease.)
Because of widespread vaccination, it is rare in the United States. We still see measles among visitors to the United States and among U.S. travelers returning from other countries. When the virus is brought into the United States, it sometimes causes outbreaks; however, because most people in the United States have been vaccinated, these outbreaks are usually small. Today, about one quarter of cases occur in adults, and nearly half occur in unvaccinated children, mostly minorities.
Measles is still a very common illness worldwide.