WASHINGTON — For the third week in a row, U.S. health officials have added dozens of new reports to the year’s list of confirmed measles cases, bringing the total to 555 — already the highest number in the past five years. If the outbreaks aren’t brought under control, public health experts worry that the cases in 2019 will hit a record nearly two decades after measles’ “elimination” in the United States.
The number of people sickened by the highly contagious, occasionally deadly disease increased by 90 during the second week of April, with 20 states now having reported cases in 2019. In 2000, health officials announced that they had rid the country of measles.
The states that have reported cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. The total so far is the second-greatest number of cases reported since 2000.
New York City has had 285 cases, virtually all of them in Brooklyn, since the outbreak began in October. Of those, 229 were reported this year, accounting for more than one-third of the 555 cases that have been reported nationwide in 2019, as of April 11, according to figures updated Monday by the CDC.
In 2014, the United States reported a record 667 cases, including one large outbreak primarily among unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio that accounted for more than half of the cases.
Last week, New York City officials declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations to halt the outbreak concentrated among ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, putting in place the broadest vaccination order in the United States in nearly three decades.
The six current outbreaks, in California, New Jersey, New York and Washington states, are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring, the CDC said.