The number of measles cases in the United States so far this year, as tallied through last Thursday, have already passed the total number of reported cases in all of 2018, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC attributes such a spike, in general, to “an increase in the number of travelers who get measles abroad and bring it into the U.S.,” as the disease is still common in many locations across the globe, and/or “further spread of measles in U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.”
From Jan. 1 to March 28, 2019, 387 measles cases have been confirmed in 15 states — “the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000,” the CDC noted.
In 2018, there were 372 cases fueled by 17 outbreaks, with three of those — New York State, New York City, and New Jersey — accounting for most of the cases. Health officials also noted the great number of imported cases last year — 82, the most since 2000. These occurred mostly among unvaccinated people from Orthodox Jewish communities who visited Israel, where an outbreak has been happening.
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington state have reported measles cases to the CDC this year. Outbreaks, which include three or more cases, have been identified in Rockland County, N.Y., New York City, Washington state, New Jersey, Santa Cruz County, Calif., and Butte County, Calif.
The outbreaks have been linked to travelers bringing measles back from countries currently suffering large outbreaks, including Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines.
The worst year for measles this decade has been 2014, with 667 cases linked to an outbreak in the Philippines and the spread of the disease among unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio.
“The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated,” the CDC stressed. “…Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.”