CDC: 1,250 measles cases recorded in USA since January 1

Henrietta Brewer
October 8, 2019

The last rash onset associated with a measles case in NY, where the outbreak initially centered on Orthodox Jewish communities, was recorded on August 19.

Once common, the disease is now rare since the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine was introduced in 1963.

"Our Nation's successful public health response to this recent measles outbreak is a testament to the commitment and effectiveness of state and local health departments, and engaged communities across the country", said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D.

This year's outbreak largely involved New York's Hasidic Jewish communities, where anti-vaccine propaganda targeted parents throughout Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Rockland County.

This brings the total number cases for the year to 1,250 in the country's worst outbreak since 1992.

However, Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in August warned there was a "reasonable chance" World Health Organization would rescind the United States' designation as a country that has eliminated measles if an outbreak in NY continued beyond September 30 of this year. The United States received the designation in 2000, when it largely eliminated person-to-person transmission of the measles.

As of October 3, the highly contagious - and sometimes deadly - disease has been reported in 31 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For example, one of the newly reported cases involves a patient who returned to Rockland County from a trip overseas.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar, said the agency is pleased that the measles outbreak has ended in NY state and measles is still considered to be eliminated in the US.

"However, this outbreak is a grave reminder that we need heightened vigilance around measles as well as other vaccine preventable diseases, and we continue to address the myths and misinformation driving these outbreaks". It is estimated three to four million people were infected, and among the 500,000 measles cases reported annually, 48,000 were hospitalized and 500 people died. The New York City Department of Health also published posters and handouts, as well as made thousands of robocalls about the safety and benefits of vaccines.

The statement from N.Y. State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said that the state had gone more than 42 days, which is "the equivalent of two incubation periods", without any new outbreaks of measles, meaning that they could officially say the outbreak was over.

"More than double the amount of vaccines have been delivered this year, and we are on track for even more people to get immunised", she said. One dose of the vaccine is 93% effective at preventing measles, and two doses are 97% effective against the disease.

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