A single case of measles can incur more than $140,000 in costs

The US state of Iowa incurred more than US$140,000 in direct costs of outbreak containment stemming from a single case of measles in an unvaccinated student infected overseas. Swift containment procedure limited the outbreak to 3 additional cases but included significant and costly steps including tracking down contacts of the infected student, establishing a measles information hotline, testing exposed medical staff for immunity, conducting measles vaccination clinics, and putting quarantines into effect.

Although even small outbreaks of highly contagious diseases can be exceedingly costly to contain, the value of containment to society is very high. Traditional economic evaluations of outbreaks which include just the costs of illness to individuals should be expanded to include the costs and value of containing the outbreak required to protect society.