USA officials say measles cases hit 25-year record

Driven by ongoing outbreaks in NY state, the number of cases of measles in 2019 has surpassed 700, the highest level in the United States since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.

The CDC released its most recent measles number on Friday, revealing that more than 700 cases have now been confirmed in the United States. The vaccination status of 125 of the remaining 201 cases was not known. Sixty-six people have been hospitalized, including 24 individuals who had pneumonia.

Almost two decades after measles was declared eliminated in the United States, the country and the globe have seen an upsurge of cases - including adults who thought they were protected by the vaccine.

The epidemiology of many of these outbreaks has been researched by the CDC, which concluded that "these outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring".

While it's unlikely New Jersey would ever see hundreds or thousands of cases at once, the state could see localized epidemics with "pockets of people with low vaccination rates getting many infections", Dr. David Cennimo, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said via text message.

As the measles outbreak continues to surge in the United States and NY, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging young children and adults to make sure they are vaccinated.

Another case is expected to be confirmed this week.

Measles is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

She suggested that Nova Scotia may not have seen the same level of outbreak as other places in Canada first, because as far as local doctors know, most people in the province are vaccinated, and second, because the Maritimes don't experience as much domestic and global travel.

But multiple pieces of evidence do support the claim that unvaccinated people who have traveled to areas with high rates of measles and then returned to the USA are the cause of the uptick. The reason is this: The measles vaccine administered between 1963 and 1967 wasn't as strong as the MMR vaccine administered now.

If you already got the government-recommended dosage of the MMR vaccine, the CDC says you don't need to re-up.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, measles spreads more easily than nearly any other infectious disease, carried by droplets from coughs, sneezes or even speech.

More than half a million children in the United Kingdom missed out on the MMR vaccine between 2010 and 2017, the children's charity Unicef says.

When asked if he would follow measures attempted in France and the U.S. to tackle measles, he said: "I wouldn't rule out anything but I don't think we're there yet.In America they tried to do this and the courts stopped them so it can be complicated, but really it's people's responsibility as a parent to do the right thing - the right thing for their own children as well as, of course, the right of the community that everybody lives in". The recommended two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is 97 percent effective in a given person in preventing measles. Americans born before 1957 are considered immune as they would have been exposed to the virus directly in an outbreak. And public health officials say it's a reminder of the importance of vaccinations. "Vaccine-preventable diseases belong in the history books, not in our emergency rooms".

Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.

If you received the MMR shot after 1968, it should last a lifetime.

A highly successful vaccination program caused the number of measles cases to plummet in the US, but the disease remains endemic in other parts of the world, where it claims tens of thousands of lives annually.

Nova Scotia doesn't have a publicly accessible vaccination registry, but patient immunization records are usually available through the public health system, or one's personal health-care provider.

  • Delores Daniels