On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the number of new measles cases in the U.S. this year has hit 971 so far, which has exceeded a record number of new measles cases 25 years ago.
CDC health officials said the federal figures show that most cases this year have been concentrated in New York City (NYC) and Rockland County, where the infection has been spreading among unvaccinated children in Orthodox Jewish communities.
The public health officials said that there have been 550 confirmed measles cases in NYC since September 2018. And those who fail to get vaccinated in four Brooklyn CIP codes may face a fine up to $1,000.
The federal agency warned that if the current measles outbreak continues, it might lose its status as being eradicated from the U.S.
The CDC said in a statement, “That loss would be a huge blow for the nation and erase the hard work done by all levels of public health.”
In the U.S., widespread vaccination by the CDC had literally eliminated measles by 2000. However, public health officials said it has reoccurred because people traveled to other countries.
The officials said that earlier this week, the CDC reported new measles cases and the figures had reached to 940, which was the highest since 1994 when 963 measles cases were reported.
The new measles cases that occurred in the first five months of 2019 have officially exceeded the total number of cases in 1994. In 1992, the U.S. saw over 2,200 measles cases. Considering these figures, officials believe that measles continues to pose a public health threat in the U.S.
The CDC said, “Vaccinations against the highly contagious virus are widespread across the U.S., with some 94% of kindergartners having received vaccination coverage.”
The typical signs and symptoms of measles include a high fever, a runny nose, cough, and a skin rash. Most people recover from the infection; however, public health officials say that at least 1 in 4 people who are infected by measles will be hospitalized.
To combat the ongoing measles outbreak, the CDC said that it would further strengthen the state as well as local programs aimed at spreading the information that the best and safest way of preventing measles is vaccination.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement, “Your decision to vaccinate will protect your family’s health and your community’s well-being. CDC will continue working with public health responders across our nation to bring this outbreak to an end.”
The WHO has reported that over 82,500 measles cases across Europe were reported last year, which is a significant surge from the previous year. On Thursday, public health officials said vaccination is extremely important when you are traveling to places where the measles outbreaks have already begun, including Israel, Japan, Brazil, the Philippines, and some countries in Africa and Europe.