A total of 127 measles cases in 10 states have been recorded thus far in 2019, and five outbreaks of 3 or more cases are occurring, according to an update yesterday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 2019 tally thus far has already surpassed total annual cases for both 2016 and 2017. Last year saw 372 cases, the most since the CDC confirmed 667 in 2014.
62 cases in Washington
Almost half of all cases recorded since the first of the year originated in Washington state's Clark County, which has seen 61 cases since early January.
On Jan 25, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared the outbreak, which is centered around the Vancouver area in southern Washington, a state of emergency. King County, which is home to Seattle, has had one measles case.
The CDC said the current outbreaks are connected to travelers who have introduced measles into US communities after traveling to countries where large measles outbreaks are occurring. Last year the CDC confirmed 82 imported cases, the most imported cases reported to the CDC since the disease was eliminated from the country in 2000.
"Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.," the CDC said. "Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated."
Measles is highly contagious; an unvaccinated person has a 90% chance of contracting the virus if exposed. Currently the CDC recommends the two-dose measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is given at ages 12 to 15 months, and again at ages 4 to 6 years. Two doses of the MMR vaccine confer 97% immunity from the virus.
Months-long outbreaks in New York
New York is still battling measles outbreaks that began last fall. NYC Health, the public health department of New York City, said that, as of Feb 12, officials have confirmed 73 measles cases in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn since October.
Officials believe that outbreak began when an unvaccinated child contracted the virus in Israel.
An international traveler brought measles to Rockland County, New York, in September 2018. As of Feb 13, the county has recorded 135 cases, and 81.5% of patients have had no MMR doses.
Elsewhere, eight cases have been reported in five counties in Texas in 2019. The state saw nine cases in 2018, and only one case in 2017.
Feb 18 CDC update
Feb 18 Washington state update
Feb 12 NYC Health update
Feb 13 Rockland County update
Feb 14 Texas Health And Human Services update