79ºF

Why now? How many cases? A comprehensive look at the measles situation in the U.S.

Nearly 700 cases confirmed across U.S. so far this year

(Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

We’ve heard that cases of measles are on the rise, but how bad is this situation? And what areas should be worried about outbreaks?

As of April 26, nearly 700 individual cases had been confirmed in 22 states across the country in less than four months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s the highest number of cases reported in the United States since the disease was eliminated in 2000.

 

!function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0],d=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=d+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var r=e.createElement("script");r.async=1,r.id=s,r.src=i,o.parentNode.insertBefore(r,o)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","https://e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js");

In 2014, there were 667 cases for the entire year.

Officials said that year, many of the cases occurred in unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio, as well as due to cases brought from the Philippines.

So what's happening now?

As of April 26, there were 695 confirmed cases in the U.S.

States that have already reported cases include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee and Washington.

Some of those cases are listed below.

New York

Outside of New York City, there had been 234 confirmed cases in the state as of April 26. 

Health departments are now working to limit exposure there and offer free vaccines to boost the county’s immunization rate.

In New York City — specifically Brooklyn and Queens — 390 cases have been confirmed, and officials say most of them have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

New York City Health said an unvaccinated child traveled to Israel, where there is a large outbreak, and acquired the disease. After that, other unvaccinated people who traveled to Israel have been infected with the measles, and people who didn’t travel there at all also fell ill with the disease.

Earlier this month, the health commissioner ordered each unvaccinated person who lives in certain ZIP codes of Brooklyn to receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Michigan

As of April 17, 43 measles cases had been confirmed statewide by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The department said the outbreak began in mid-March, after which officials confirmed a contagious international traveler with the measles had been in Washtenaw County.

Health officials are now urging any unvaccinated residents to get the MMR vaccine.

Texas

As of April 5, Texas Health and Human Services had confirmed 15 cases of the measles this year.

Washington

As of April 24, the Washington State Department of Health had confirmed 72 cases.

California

As of April 24, 38 cases had been confirmed in the state, according to the California Department of Public Health. Officials said that in addition to two outbreaks that have been linked to patients with international travel, there have been 28 other outbreak-associated cases.

New Jersey

The State of New Jersey Department of Health had confirmed 14 cases of the measles as of April 23. Officials said they are especially concerned with a community in Monmouth County, where official believe an infected person may have exposed multiple people over the course of a few days.

The department is now trying to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to the infected person. 

Florida

As of April 24, only two cases had been confirmed in the state, according to Florida Health officials. They said neither case was known to have been vaccinated against the measles, but that a total of 311 people have been identified as having been exposed to the measles cases during ongoing investigations.

Additionally, officials confirmed that measles in Florida is rare -- due to generally high vaccination rates -- and that both confirmed cases had recently traveled internationally to Southeast Asia.

Knowing these numbers is great, but what does this mean as we look ahead?

Let’s look at how it’s spreading so quickly.

It’s important to know that the majority of people who have contracted the measles have not been vaccinated, according to the CDC, and that the disease can spread when it reaches a community where groups of people aren’t vaccinated.

To add to that, there are still many places in the world where the measles is still common. Because of that, it’s unsurprising that travelers with the measles continue bringing the disease into the U.S., the CDC said.

So what do we do?

Though there has been much debate about parents' decision on whether to vaccinate their children, the CDC says the best way to fend off the disease is to ensure you get the MMR vaccine. Officials said is extremely safe and effective: Two doses are about 97% effective at preventing the disease, while one dose is about 93% effective.


About the Author: