The Return of Measles: Measles Cases in 2019
Measles has made a dramatic comeback in the United States. Despite the fact that we're only 4 months into the year, the United States has already seen 626 cases of measles. The previous record for an entire year this past decade was in 2014, which saw 667 cases. With 8 months remaining in 2019, we are likely to surpass this record this year.
This is of course much smaller than it used to be in the 50s and 60s, when measles had infected hundreds of thousands per year prior to the measles vaccine. However, this still concerns many experts given the infectiousness of measles.
Map of Measles Outbreaks in the United States: April 2019
22 States are reporting measles cases in the United States. Most of these are isolated cases, often from individuals travelling from abroad where measles is more prevalent.
Four locations outlined in the map above have ongoing measles outbreaks, as defined by 3 or more cases of measles. Measles outbreaks are particularly concerning as measles is a very contagious disease that can spread very quickly if given the opportunity.
Where does measles come from?
Why are there relatively few people with measles?
Why are experts concerned about Measles? Measles
Measles is extremely infectious. In an unvaccinated community, measles can spread like a wildfire.
Epidemiologists estimate the contagiousness of a disease by the basic reproduction number (R0), which represents the number of people one case can infect in their community.
The Amish Measles Outbreak of 2014
Early Symptoms of Measles
Measles can be a difficult disease to diagnose. It often shares symptoms with other disease early on. The first symptoms of measles are a cough, red eyes, and a runny nose.
Patients may also develop a high fever, that can run very high up to 104 degrees F, particularly after the rash starts.
As measles progresses past the first symptoms, white dots can appear inside the mouth.
Learn More: MMR Vaccine & Autism
The Measles vaccine and autism remains a controversial topic. We've summarized the data and the evidence behind this link below.
Two retracted studies in 1998 and 2002 suggested a link between Vaccines and autism. Further studies have looked at much larger groups of patients and have not found evidence of a link between vaccines and autism. There are however other known factors that are significantly associated with autism including smoking and premature births.
Learn More: Herd Immunity
Vaccination helps you and your community through herd immunity. Communities that have high vaccination rates also have lower incidences of disease among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Learn more about the science of herd immunity below: