Measles cases in the United States have now exceeded the highest number on record in a single year since the disease was eliminated in 2000.
Nationwide, there have been at least 673 cases reported in 22 states for 2019, according to a tally by The Washington Post of available state and local health department data on Wednesday. That’s more than the 667 cases reported in 2014, when one large outbreak primarily among unvaccinated people in Amish communities in Ohio accounted for more than half of the cases that year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide an official update on Monday. The agency is “currently receiving, reviewing, and validating reports of measles cases from state and local health departments,” spokesman Jason McDonald said.
CDC’s last update was 626 cases from 22 states on April 22.
This year, as in the past, the majority of people who have fallen ill were unvaccinated, officials have said. In some communities, anti-vaccine activists have spread false claims about the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, fueling concern among parents about immunizing their children. When many people in a community have not been vaccinated, the disease can spread quickly. It can cause serious complications among all age groups, especially young children, adults with weakened immune systems and the elderly.
The states that have reported cases to CDC this year are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee and Washington.
The CDC defines an outbreak as three or more cases. In addition to New York City, there are outbreaks in California; Rockland County, New York; New Jersey; and Michigan, where almost all 43 cases are linked to one man who traveled to the Detroit area from Brooklyn, unaware that he had measles.
[Maine House gives initial OK to removal of nonmedical vaccination exemptions]
The largest outbreak is in New York City, centered in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. There have been 334 cases this year, including 31 in just the past week, according to data posted Wednesday.
Among the new outbreaks is one in Los Angeles County, where the health department tweeted Wednesday that it now has five confirmed cases.
In Oregon, officials reported an additional four cases in the Portland area. But these cases are not related to the Pacific Northwest outbreak that was centered in nearby Clark County in Washington.
In Washington state, 74 people contracted the infection in that outbreak, including 63 who were unvaccinated. Health officials are expected to declare that outbreak over if no more cases are reported by later this week.