More people in the USA have been infected with measles during the first five months of 2019 than the total for any year since 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 60 new individual instances of measles in Monday's update, bringing this year's tally to 940.
CDC director Robert Redfield, MD, said the only way to end the outbreak is to make sure all children and adults who can get vaccinated are vaccinated. A decade ago, there were fewer than 100 cases a year.
The latest spate of illnesses is scattered across 26 states, but most are in New York City.
The uptick threatens the nation's measles elimination status, which was attained in 2000.
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Overall vaccination rates have remained fairly high, but outbreaks have been happening in communities where parents have refused recommended shots, US health officials say. A vocal fringe of parents oppose vaccines. The new numbers pushed the national total above the 963 illnesses reported for all of 1994. "The measles elimination goal, first announced in 1963 and accomplished in 2000, was a monumental task", the agency said in statement.
Before the widespread use of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, measles sickened about 3 to 4 million people each year, resulting in 400 to 500 deaths and about 48,000 hospitalizations, according to CDC estimates.
The team concluded that clinicians should be aware of measles complications and that public health efforts should continue to focus on immunization, given the high burden on patients and health facilities.
The cases in the Unites States are imported from worldwide travel and then local outbreaks begin when the highly contagious illness spreads to those who are not immune to the virus from vaccination or having recovered from measles.
In communities with 95% or more of residents who are vaccinated against the virus, herd immunity works. "Yet we don't do and have not done what could be done - namely eliminate eradicate the virus".