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US Measles Cases Taper Off After Record-Breaking Year

JUL 09, 2019 | MICHAELA FLEMING
After a worrisome first half of the year, new measles cases in the United States have begun to slow, according to new figures released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Measles has been a cause for concern for parents, clinicians, and public health officials alike as the vaccine-preventable disease has made a resurgence in the United States in 2019. On April 24, 2019, the United States officially documented the greatest number of measles cases in a given year since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.

As of July 3, 2019, there have been 1109 cases of measles confirmed across 28 states in 2019. This figure is nearly 3 times the cumulative number of cases confirmed in 2018.

The highest number of weekly measles cases was documented during the week ending on March 23, 2019, during which 87 new cases of measles were confirmed. During the week ending June 26, 2019, 18 new cases were documented and during the week ending July 3, 2019, 14 new cases of the highly contagious disease were recorded. As such, the past 2 weeks represent a considerable decline and could be a sign that the active measles outbreaks are close to being controlled.

According to the most recent data from the CDC, which was released on Monday, July 8, 2019, the number of ongoing measles outbreaks has also declined. Measles outbreaks, defined as 3 or more cases, have sprung up from coast-to-coast in 2019.

The 2 largest outbreaks of measles this year have been documented in New York, with a combined total of 897 cases of measles confirmed between Rockland County and New York City.

At this point in time, a measles outbreak remains ongoing in Butte County, California, which has documented a total of 21 cases in 2019.

Apart from New York and California, the only other state with an ongoing measles outbreak is Washington. This particular outbreak is the second measles outbreak in the state this year, the first of which documented more than 70 cases and was declared over earlier in the spring. The ongoing outbreak has documented 10 cases since May.

Although the case counts in this outbreak are not as high as the previous one, the outbreak is still a cause for concern. On June 28, 2019, King County Public Health warned residents that a child with measles visited multiple hospital emergency departments while contagious.

The CDC notes that all of the outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back into the United States following visits to countries including Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are ongoing.

“The epidemiology of measles is that it still does exist in many places of the world right now,” Christina (Tina) Tan, MD, MPH, a state epidemiologist and an assistant commissioner with the New Jersey Department of Health, said in a segment of a recent Contagion® Insights program. “We just have to be aware of this and recognize that this is a vaccine-preventable disease. We have tools in our armamentarium to try to combat this.”

Contagion® will continue to provide updates on the measles situation in the United States as they become available.

For the most recent case counts in the measles outbreaks across the United States, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
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