With a total of 555 cases, 2019 is the second highest number of measles cases in the United States for 25 years – and the year is not even half.
"I'm obviously very worried about the size and acceleration of the current outbreak," Dr. Nancy Messonier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the CDC. "That will not stop by itself."
In the United States, Masles not only rises. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported Monday that there were more than 110,000 measles cases worldwide in the first three months of 2019, an increase of nearly 300% over the same period last year.
The data are preliminary and the actual number of measles cases are likely to be higher as WHO estimates that less than 1
Ukraine had the highest number of cases in the last 12 months with more than 72,000 cases, followed by Madagascar and India with more than 69,000 and 60,000 cases respectively. WHO has warned that there are delays in reporting and that data may be incomplete.
A "fast-paced, life-threatening disease"
In addition, 1 or 2 out of 1,000 children who get measles die from it.
After the vaccine, the cases dropped in 1994 with 963 cases. In 2000, the disease was declared eliminated in the United States. Despite the ongoing outbreaks in communities in the United States, measles continue to be eliminated, which means that they are not transmitted continuously in that country. Measles are no longer considered eliminated if they have been continuously transmitted for more than 12 months.
The CDC recommends two vaccinations against measles mumps and rubella (MMR) for children. The first should be given after 12 to 15 months and the second if the child is 4 to 6 years old. The first dose provides 93% protection against measles and the second dose 97%.
The Anti-Vaxer Movement
Experts point to a reason for this year's big outbreak: the power of the anti-vaccination movement.
"It's just terrible that children in the US need to suffer from measles." This should not happen, William Schaffner, medical director of the National Infectious Disease Foundation and adviser to the CDC on vaccines. "We had previously eliminated this disease not only in the US, but throughout the Western Hemisphere, and it looks like we've now turned the clock down deep and sad."
The 20 states that report on measles this year are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana , Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Most cases had occurred in New York, where an outbreak of ultra-Orthodox Jews had taken place in the fall.
According to Messonier, the outbreak in New York was particularly difficult to control.
"Most measles outbreaks in the US stop earlier than this," she said.
Health officials in Rockland County, New York, tried to exclude unvaccinated children from public places, but a judge prohibited the county from enforcing this rule.
Messonier said it was about "correcting" vaccine myths. The health authorities have worked with rabbis to explain that the vaccine is safe, but this has not reversed the outbreak yet.
"You just have to address the people where they are and answer their questions," Messonier said. "It's about the slow work of building trust."