3 September 2014 (CDC) – This year the United States is experiencing a record number of measles cases. From January 1 to August 29, there have been 592 confirmed measles cases reported to CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.
- The majority of the people who got measles are unvaccinated.
- Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
- Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.
Outbreaks in countries to which Americans often travel can directly contribute to an increase in measles cases in the U.S.
Reasons for an increase in cases some years:
- 2014: The Philippines is experiencing a large, ongoing measles outbreak. Many of the cases in the U.S. in 2014 have been associated with cases brought in from the Philippines. For more information see the Measles in the Philippines Travelers' Health Notice.
- 2013: The U.S. experienced 11 outbreaks in 2013, three of which had more than 20 cases, including an outbreak with 58 cases. For more information see Measles-United States, January 1-August 24, 2013.
- 2011: In 2011, more than 30 countries in the WHO European Region reported an increase in measles, and France was experiencing a large outbreak. Most of the cases that were brought to the U.S. in 2011 came from France. For more information see Measles—United States, January–May 20, 2011.
- 2008: The increase in cases in 2008 was the result of spread in communities with groups of unvaccinated people. The U.S. experienced several outbreaks in 2008 including three large outbreaks. For more information see Update: Measles—United States, January–July 2008.
See also: The Surveillance Manual chapter on measles that describes case investigation, outbreak investigation, and outbreak control for additional information.
MMWR: 2014 Outbreaks
- Measles — United States, January 1–May 23, 2014
MMWR May 29, 2014
From January 1 through May 23, 2014, a total of 288 confirmed measles cases have been reported to CDC, surpassing the highest reported yearly total of measles cases since elimination.
- Notes from the Field: Measles—California, January 1-April 18, 2014
MMWR. Apr 25, 2014
During January 1–April 18, 2014, 58 confirmed measles cases were reported in California, the highest number reported for that period since 1995.
MMWR: 2013 Outbreaks
- Measles—United States, January 1-August 24, 2013
MMWR. Sep 13, 2013
During the first 8 months of 2013, 159 people in the United States were reported to have measles.
- Notes from the field: Measles outbreak among members of a religious community—Brooklyn, New York, March–June 2013
MMWR. Vol 62, No 36;752-3 09/13/2013
- Notes from the field: Measles outbreak associated with a traveler returning from India—North Carolina, April–May 2013
MMWR. Vol 62, No 36;753
By Robbie Gonzalez
6 September 2014
(io9) – The latest figures: Between January 1 and August 29 of this year, nearly 600 confirmed measles cases were reported to the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. The resurgence is the greatest the U.S. has seen since the disease was eliminated from the country in 2000.
Notably, it has not taken the U.S. eight months to reach this ugly milestone. By May, the country had already seen 288 cases of measles – the most in a five-month period since 1994, and more than had been reported for a given year in well over a decade. The cause for the resurgence is as unambiguous today as it was then. To quote Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases: "The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people."
The harmful effects of vaccine-refusal have not been limited to measles' comeback. California, the most populous state in the U.S., has become a case study in what happens when people decide against vaccinating their children. The L.A. Times reports California parents today are opting out of vaccinating their kids at twice the rate they did seven years ago. State health officials say insufficient vaccination has contributed not only to the the widespread reemergence of measles, but the ongoing whooping cough epidemic, and has left the state vulnerable to outbreaks of other serious diseases.
"We have schools in California where the percent of children who exercise the personal belief exemption is well above 50%," Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the California Department of Public Health's Center for Infectious Diseases, told the LAT. "That's going to be a challenge for any disease that is vaccine preventable."
What kinds of diseases are vaccine-preventable? There are literally dozens. Some, like flu, are obvious; others – like cervical, anal, throat, and penile cancers – are, unfortunately, less-so. Many, like measles, are highly contagious. And the key to stopping all of them is timely immunization. [more]