Number of USA measles cases rises to 704 in 2019

Dr Susan Turnbull Medical Officer of Health

Dr Susan Turnbull Medical Officer of Health

Stopping the outbreaks is a priority for the CDC, who says it is "working 24/7 to protect Americans from this contagious disease", adding that vaccination is the best way to protect against measles. Measles case have been documented in: 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.

The ongoing outbreaks have caused this year's number of cases to blow past the previous annual record in just the first few months.

There have been 43 confirmed cases in MI since March of 2019. The latest figures released from those communities reveal that since that time, there have been a total of 202 cases in Rockland County and 390 cases in Brooklyn and Queens. That includes the largest outbreaks, in Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City.

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. In a statement Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said: "We have come a long way in fighting infectious diseases in America, but we risk backsliding and seeing our families, neighbors, and communities needlessly suffer from preventable diseases". "The emphasis needs to be on getting as many unvaccinated people vaccinated as possible".

As the measles outbreak continues to spread, causing growing fear in its wake, NY communities of ultra-Orthodox Jews, face accusations that they are a contributing source for the outbreak of the disease. "We know vaccines are safe because they're among some of the most studied medical products we have".

How effective is the measles vaccine?

Unicef's analysis estimated that 169 million children around the world missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017 - an average of 21.1 million a year.

The current outbreak has escalated since 82 people in 2018 and more than 40 people in 2019 brought measles to the United States from other countries, most frequently Ukraine, Israel and the Philippines, federal officials said.

Dr Linda Diggle, head of preventive programmes, said the battle against myths and misinformation was undermining the WHO's ambition to eradicate measles. "Go ahead and get a dose of MMR", Schaffner says.

Poor vaccination rates are to blame for the increase and WHO has said that "vaccine hesitancy" - the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate - was one of the world's biggest threats to health.

The CDC said anyone who had an MMR shot before 1989 - and likely would have only received only one dose of the vaccine - should get a booster shot as two injections are now recommended. 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. Some adults may need a new dose depending on whether they received the recommended two doses of the live virus or if they are traveling into and out of outbreak areas.

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