This season’s number of 555 confirmed measles cases has far surpassed last season’s 372 and is approaching the 667 cases seen in 2014 — the highest numbers since the disease was effectively eliminated in the United States in 2000.
During the second week of April alone, 90 new cases were reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Increasing numbers of vaccine refusers is believed to explain a large part of the surge, according to the CDC.
The CDC has received reports of measles in 20 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
Most of the 285 cases in New York City have occurred primarily in Brooklyn and Queens since the beginning of the outbreak in October, where there is an ultra-orthodox community of Jewish residents whose religious beliefs prevent them from getting the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination.
Most of those cases were transmitted by a child who traveled to Israel (where there are large cases of measles and unvaccinated individuals) and who brought the infection back to the United States.
Earlier this season, New York City instituted two extreme measures to tamp down the explosion of measles cases in the city, particularly among areas with low vaccine compliance, such as Orthodox Jewish communities.
Among other things, the city required only vaccinated individuals to be admitted to yeshivas (Jewish schools) and daycare centers where Jewish children attend. After earlier attempts to institute these measures failed, last week New York City officials decided it may levy fines as high as $1000 per occurrence (including for each child in a family who is out of compliance) and jail time.
Other Measles Outbreaks
Rockland County, New York, less than 40 miles north of New York City, had reported 184 confirmed measles cases since April 12.
Washington state has reported 73 cases in Clark County and one case in King County.
New Jersey has 11 outbreaks of measles, including seven in Ocean County and four in one Monmouth County household. “[T]his household has a direct epidemiologic link to the outbreak community in Ocean County. These cases, in addition to 1 highly suspect case, potentially exposed individuals to the infection in New Jersey between March 9 and March 14,” according to the New Jersey advisory.
In California, there were 21 confirmed cases across 10 counties: Los Angeles, Placer, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Butte, Calaveras, Shasta, and Tehama.
In Michigan, there have been 39 confirmed cases since March 13.
Measles remains a common infection in many areas of the world, and experts recommended being vaccinated against it before traveling internationally.