- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that the U.S. has seen 1,172 measles cases so far in 2019.
- New York, Michigan, and Washington State have been hit especially hard by the virus this year.
- The majority of infected people were unvaccinated.
In 2000, health officials said measles was eliminated in the U.S. But in 2019, the nation has already recorded at least 1,172 cases of the virus — the most in a single year since 1992.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a report on Aug. 1 stating that, among those who got measles in 2019, 124 people have been hospitalized, while 64 reported serious health complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.
“The majority of cases are among people who were not vaccinated against measles,” the CDC wrote. “More than 75 percent of the cases this year are linked to outbreaks in New York and New York City. Measles is more likely to spread and cause outbreaks in U.S. communities where groups of people are unvaccinated.”
Thirty states have reported measles cases this year to the CDC: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.
Some of the most alarming outbreaks of 2019 occurred in New York, Michigan, and Washington State. In January, a measles outbreak spread across an anti-vaccination “hotspot” — an area with many unvaccinated people — in Clark County, Wash., causing officials to declare a public health emergency. About 8 percent of children in the area’s public schools had received exemptions from getting vaccinated for measles, based on personal or philosophical reasons. This likely helped fuel the outbreak, which ultimately infected 52 children under the age of 10.
In New York, measles outbreaks struck several ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, including some in New York City. The outbreak prompted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to declare a public health emergency for select zip codes in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Under the emergency, people were required to get vaccinations or they could face fines up to $1,000.
“This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately,” Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference. “The measles vaccine works. It is safe. It is effective. It is time-tested.”
The CDC wrote that measles outbreaks occur mainly because more people travel abroad and then bring it back into the country, and also because of communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.
“The best protection against measles is measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine,” the CDC wrote. “MMR vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles.”