Measles cases rose nearly four-fold in first quarter 2019

Measles cases rose nearly four-fold in first quarter 2019

If the outbreaks aren't brought under control, public health experts worry that the cases in 2019 will hit a record almost two decades after measles's "elimination" in the United States. It is the worst outbreak seen in the city since 1991, the mayor said.

The number of measles cases worldwide almost quadrupled in the first quarter of 2019 to 112,163 against the same period previous year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, citing provisional data.

Ukraine had the highest number of cases in the past 12 months, with more than 72,000 cases, followed by Madagascar and India with more than 69,000 and 60,000 cases respectively.

"While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend". But when an worldwide traveler exposed to measles overseas brings the disease into the country, pockets of unvaccinated communities within the USA enable the disease to spread. This can lead to convulsions and leave a child deaf or with an intellectual disability. For every 1,000 children who get the disease, the CDC estimated one or two will die from it. Several people had to be hospitalized but no fatalities had been reported as of last week. The most before that was 963 cases in 1994.

Measles was declared eliminated in the 2000 thanks to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.

Smaller measles outbreaks are ongoing in New Jersey and California.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children get two doses of measles vaccine, which is 97% effective.

In January, WHO named the anti-vaccination movement among the top 10 global health threats for 2019. "This should not happen", said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and an adviser to the CDC on vaccines.

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States that have reported cases to CDC include NY, where there have been outbreaks in Brooklyn and Rockland County, New Jersey, Connecticut and MA.

New York City has had 285 cases, virtually all of them in Brooklyn, since the outbreak began in October.

Another outbreak has hit Orthodox Jewish families in New York's Rockland County.

How measles outbreaks spread in the U.S.


The United States declared that measles had been eliminated from the country in 2000, meaning the virus is no longer present year-round.

NY health officials said the Brooklyn outbreak was caused by an unvaccinated child returning from a trip to Israel, which is also grappling with an outbreak. Health authorities have worked with rabbis to explain that vaccination is safe, but that still hasn't turned the outbreak around.

Messonier said it's a matter of "correcting myths" about vaccination.

"You have to just approach people where they are and answer their questions", Messonier said.

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