CDC: Measles Cases Have Now Hit a More Than 25-Year High

If this increase continues, it could put the US at risk of losing its elimination status.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
May 2019
new york city's empire state building covered by dots that resemble measles rash

As of May 30, there have been 971 reported measles cases in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This marks the greatest number of reported cases since 1993, when there were 963 cases.

Measles has been spreading rapidly in several regions in the US, but areas hit the hardest over the course of the last eight months include New York City and Rockland County in New York. Last month, NYC declared a public health emergency, and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations. If these outbreaks continue through the summer and fall, the US may lose its elimination status. The measles elimination goal was first announced in 1966 and accomplished in 2000. Prior to the widespread use of the measles vaccine, about 3 to 4 million people in the US got measles every year, accounting for 400 to 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations, the CDC says.

A large part of the issue is the anti-vax movement, which the World Health Organization (WHO) named a global health threat for 2019. Measles has seen a 30 percent increase globally, and some countries that were close to eradicating the disease, like the US, have seen a comeback in recent years, according to WHO.

“Measles is preventable, and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated, do get vaccinated,” says Robert Redfield, MD, CDC Director. “Again, I want to reassure parents that vaccines are safe, they do not cause autism. The greater danger is the disease the vaccination prevents. Your decision to vaccinate will protect your family’s health and your community’s well-being.”

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