The number of measles cases in the United States has hit a record number since the disease was eradicated in the United States in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
As of Wednesday, 695 cases of the vaccine-preventable disease have been reported across 22 different states this year, The Washington Post reported. Previously, the highest number of cases in a year was in 2014 when 667 cases were reported from a single large outbreak linked to Amish communities in Ohio.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday that the country is seeing “a resurgence of measles, a disease that had once been effectively eliminated from our country. ... Measles is not a harmless childhood illness, but a highly contagious, potentially life-threatening disease.”
Azar said measles vaccines were “among the most extensively studied medical products we have,” with their safety “firmly established over many years in some of the largest vaccine studies ever undertaken.”
“The longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again get a sustained foothold in the United States,” the CDC warned.
Measles cases directly linked to anti-vaxxers:
“This year, as in the past, officials say the majority of people in the U.S. who have fallen ill were unvaccinated. In some communities, anti-immunization activists have spread false claims about the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, causing concern among parents about inoculating their children. When many people in a community have not been vaccinated, the disease can spread quickly,” The Washington Post reported.
The CDC said that anti-vaxxer misinformation is “a significant factor contributing to the outbreaks in New York,” where a large outbreak linked to an Orthodox Jewish community has infected hundreds, The New York Times reported.
The CDC said that some organizations are “deliberately targeting these communities with inaccurate and misleading information about vaccines” and urged leaders to provide “accurate, scientific-based information to counter misinformation.”
Measles is very dangerous:
“Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world and can cause serious complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that can have long-term consequences, especially among young children, adults with weakened immune systems and the elderly,” The Washington Post reported. “Before the widespread use of vaccines began in 1963, it infected millions every year in the United States, killing several hundred.
According to the CDC, while New York and Washington state have seen the worst measles outbreaks this year, cases have also been reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, and Tennessee.