Measles nears record in United States as the disease spreads in NY

Grant Boone
April 30, 2019

Cases have now been reported in 22 states, but hotbeds in New York, Washington and OR continue to contribute the greatest numbers of new cases each week.

Though the number of people affected in the still relatively low compared with the countries hardest hit, there are a record number of USA measles cases - more than 700, so far, in 2019, according to the CDC - the highest since the disease was eliminated in the US back in 2000.

The news comes as lawmakers in NY announced they are introducing legislation that would remove all non-medical exemptions from vaccine requirements for children in the state.

- Other outbreaks have been reported in Washington state, New Jersey, California's Butte County and MI.

Breitbart News reported that the CDC website explains that record keeping began on measles outbreaks in 1912 and in the first decade reported an average of 6,000 measles-related deaths each year.

This is the nation's worst year for measles since 1994 and eight months still remain in 2019.

And with the disease once more in the spotlight, people have questions about who should be vaccinated aside from young children.

The highly contagious disease can be spread very quickly as the virus can live up to two hours in the air where the infected person coughed or sneezed. It can also cause permanent hearing loss or intellectual disabilities. Two doses prevent measles after exposure by 97 percent.

There are no treatments and no cures for measles, said CDC Director Robert Redfield.

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The department said the outbreak began in mid-March, after which officials confirmed a contagious worldwide traveler with the measles had been in Washtenaw County. People who have had measles are immune.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Virginia McLaughlin said the Public Health Unit "has contacted, or is contacting, more than 49 people" potentially exposed to the disease. The disease was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000.

Social media and on-the-ground community agents have been disseminating misconceptions among many communities about the safety and efficacy of the MMR vaccine.

In an effort to stem the spread of measles, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared a state of emergency requiring everyone of all ages in the zip codes hit by the measles outbreaks there.

Since that time, outbreaks have occurred when someone - either an American who had traveled overseas or a traveler from another country - contracted the virus elsewhere and brought it to the U.S. There have been 44 such introductions of measles so far in 2019, the CDC report said. The measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, and some early versions of the vaccine were not as effective as those offered today, the CDC says. "The lead author lost his license". It took less than a week for that to happen, showing the pace in which the disease is spreading. "Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease".

Who needs to be vaccinated?

According to the CDC, 94% of children entering kindergarten in the United States in 2017 had received their two doses of the MMR vaccine to protect them from mumps, measles and rubella.

Health officials are also recommend infants 6 through 11 months receive one dose of the vaccine before worldwide travel.

The vast majority of people who get two doses of the measles vaccine are protected for life and do not need a booster shot, Schaffner says. "Go to your health care provider, including a pharmacy, roll up your sleeves and get a dose of MMR".

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