Amid continuing concerns about the re-emergency of measles, which had been largely eradicated in the United States, federal health officials indicate that the number of cases reported nationwide grew by nearly 20% over the past week.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated measles case count this week, indicating that there are now at least 465 individuals nationwide who have been diagnosed with the viral infection, with nearly 80 of the cases being reported within the last week.
CDC officials are warning that the number of measles cases is growing at increased rates, impacting additional states. Since April 4, a total of 465 measles cases have been reported in the U.S. this year, which is the second highest recording in almost two decades.
Four additional states have reported measles cases bringing the total number of impacted states to 19, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Washington Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts and Nevada.
Several jurisdictions have issued official measles outbreaks, indicating there have been three or more cases currently ongoing. Those jurisdictions include New York State, Rockland County, New York City, Washington, Santa Cruz County of California, New Jersey, Butte County of California and Michigan.
Officials are reporting the outbreaks have been linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines where there are currently large outbreaks of measles. Another cause of increased outbreaks are being associated with communities of unvaccinated individuals.
Due to the rise of the “anti-vaxxer” movement which has been fueled by erroneous information that suggests the measles vaccine causes autism, leading to many children missing necessary vaccines. Evidence indicates vaccines are safe and do not cause autism. Additionally, critics of anti-vaxxers note that measles can kill, autism does not.
Pockets of unvaccinated communities, who avoid vaccinations due to unsubstantiated claims about the potential link autism or other health concerns, are also contributing to the increase in measles outbreaks this year and in recent years, the CDC warns.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has threatened to take action to reduce the risk of measles to the public, recognizing that too many states allow excessive vaccination exemptions and that must be curtailed to protect the health of the larger population.
Although measles was eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, many people fail to understand the disease can return if vaccinations are not maintained. According to a recent CDC study, recent vaccination rates among young children in the U.S. have fallen below 70%. This is approximately 23% below the “herd immunity” level, which is the desired rate of immunization to protect other who aren’t vaccinated.
Measles is a highly contagious illness. However, it is entirely preventable by vaccines. Typically symptoms include rash, fever, cough, runny, nose, and watery eyes.
As of April 4, the 2019 calendar year is set to reach one of the highest ever recorded measles case counts since eradication in 2000. The highest case counts recorded since 200 have included 667 cases in 2014, 188 cases in 2015, and 372 cases in 2018.