Federal health officials reported that the number of measles cases in the United States increased last week. This increase is leading to near record levels for the annual total of measles cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been measles cases confirmed across 20 states this year, totaling more than 600 incidents. This is the second to the highest number of new cases that has been reported since measles was eliminated nearly a decade ago in 2000.
What’s concerning for officials is that the number of measles cases is steadily increasing every week. In 2018, the number of measles cases was less than 400. Data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates a 300% rise in measles cases during the first few months of 2019 when compared to data from 2018.
According to NPR.org, another concern is that the increase in measles cases has occurred over two years primarily as a result of momentum in the anti-vaccination movement, according to the CDC. In the United States, a large number of measles cases are people that have not received the vaccination.
Health officials believe people have become complacent because of the progress made in prior years. There’s a great concern about the amount of misinformation shared online regarding vaccinations. Inaccurate information has resulted in an increased amount of distrust by those who choose not to get vaccinated.
Many of the measles cases reported this year are concentrated across California, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Michigan and Washington. They fall within 17 outbreaks that are believed to have stemmed from individuals travelling abroad and returning from the Philippines, Ukraine and Israel.
Symptoms of measles often include a runny nose, high fever, rash and cough. The rash can spread across the body and is one of the most notable markers of measles. In severe cases, the person infected can develop brain swelling, pneumonia and a variety of other complications that require hospitalization.
According to WHO, measles resulted in approximately 110,000 deaths among children in 2017. Measles can result in long-term, and even lifelong disabilities, such as blindness, brain damage and hearing loss. WHO has also reported an increase in measles among children in locations like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Ethiopia, Sudan and Ethiopia.
While the current trend is believed to be a result of anti-vaxxer sentiments, there are also an increased number of measles cases in places where the number of vaccinations is high.