Last week saw 60 new measles cases diagnosed across the country, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was a 6.8 percent increase in the number of measles cases in the week. The latest data covers the one-week period ending May 24. New data is reported every Monday by the CDC.
The newest count brings the total number of recorded cases for the year so far to 940, making it the worst outbreak since 1994. This year is now on pace to match the 1992 outbreak, which saw more than 2,000 reported cases. The CDC defines “outbreaks” as areas with three or more cases. Outbreaks are currently ongoing in New York, California, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Now, 26 states have reported confirmed cases of measles. In addition to the states named above, cases have been reported in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Tennessee. Experts warn that the outbreaks are not over.
The outbreaks are mainly occurring in communities where there are a high number of unvaccinated people. In New York, most of the cases have occurred in New York City and Rockland County, located just north of the city, in Orthodox Jewish communities. These communities tend to have lower vaccination rates than the general population.
Large numbers of cases have also been reported in California. In that state, there has been an increase in parents believing that vaccines may cause autism. Anti-vaccine advocates have been spreading misinformation online, exacerbating the problem. While public health officials had announced that measles had been eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, outbreaks still happen via travelers coming from countries where measles is still common. Several of the outbreaks occurring now have been traced as originating from travelers from other countries.