Measles continues to pose a threat to public health as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 60 new cases of the preventable illness across the country last week, the agency said on Monday.
The newest count brings the total number of recorded cases for the year so far to 940, making it the worst outbreak since 1994.
The 2019 total, however, is inching closer to surpassing that milestone. There were 958 reported cases of measles in 1994, which was still lower than the 1992 outbreak that saw more than 2,000 reported cases.
New data, the latest of which covers a one-week period ending May 24, is reported every Monday by the CDC. The agency has detailed how outbreaks occur in communities where there are a high number of unvaccinated people.
New York’s Orthodox Jewish communities, for example, represent a large portion of the reported cases in New York state as anti-vaccine advocates spread misinformation. States of emergency have been declared both in New York City and Rockland County, located just north of the city. Rockland officials took the dramatic step of barring unvaccinated children from public places for 30 days back in March, but a judge later blocked the order.
In California, an increase in parents that believe that vaccines may cause autism ― a stance not backed by scientific research ― contributed to an uptick in reported measles cases there.
Twenty-four other states have also reported cases. They include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington.
“Outbreaks,” which the CDC defines as areas with three or more cases, are currently ongoing in New York, California, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington.
Public health officials announced that measles had been eliminated in 2000, meaning that it was no longer constantly present in the United States. However, travelers returning to the country from places where measles is common are also at risk of prompting outbreaks, the CDC said.
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