Health Care

Measles record means United States could lose elimination status

Measles record means United States could lose elimination status”

This year's USA measles epidemic just surpassed a 25-year-old record, and experts say it's not clear when the wave of illnesses will stop.

The U.S. has surpassed the record for the most measles cases reported in a single year, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recording 971 cases so far in 2019.

The federal figures show that most of the new cases this year have been concentrated in New York City and Rockland County, N.Y., where the virus has been spreading mostly among unvaccinated children in Orthodox Jewish communities.

Public health officials blame the resurgence on the spread of misinformation about vaccines. Those caught unvaccinated in four Brooklyn ZIP codes can face fines up to $1,000.

Measles was officially eliminated in the 2000, a milestone officials define by the virus no longer circulating continuously.

The city's surge, which began last October, is already the largest local measles outbreak in the almost 30 years.

That eclipses the previous high of 963 set 25 years ago in 1994, when 963 cases were reported, and 2019 is only five months into the calendar year. City officials say 123 people have received summonses for not complying with the order.

Sixty new cases were reported in the past week, bringing this year's total to 971 cases in 26 U.S. states - the highest since 1994.

It's been 27 years since the nation saw this many measles cases - 2,237 cases were reported in 1992.

Vaccinations against the incredibly contagious virus remain high, but US health officials say they are strengthening state and local programs aimed at spreading the word that the safest and most effective way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated. "The greater danger is the disease that vaccination prevents", said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

The city health department has put 400 people to work on the outbreak, and forged new relationships with community organizations to make a better case for vaccinations.

Clark County in Washington state had the second-largest outbreak in the U.S. this year with more than 70 cases reported.

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