US officials: Measles tally doubled in past month

May 29, 2014 by Mike Stobbe
In this Nov. 26, 2013 file photo, Red Cross and UNICEF medics administer polio and measles vaccinations to children at an evacuation center for typhoon survivors more than two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the city of Tacloban, Leyte province in central Philippines. Measles cases in the last five months have caused more U.S. illnesses than in any entire year since 1996, according to numbers released by the Center for Disease control and Prevention on Thursday, May 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)

Measles cases are accelerating, and in the last five months have caused more U.S. illnesses than in any entire year since 1996.

Health officials say 307 cases have been reported since New Year's Day. About half have been in the past month—most from a huge outbreak in unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio.

That's a blistering start, even before the customary spurt of cases seen in the late spring and summer, health officials noted.

"Measles has reached a 20-year high. This is not the kind of record we want to break," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC released the latest numbers Thursday during a news conference.

Nearly all the cases have been linked to travelers who caught the virus abroad and spread it in the United States among unvaccinated people. Many of the travelers had been to the Philippines, where a recent measles epidemic has caused more than 30,000 illnesses.

Most of the unvaccinated skipped shots for personal or philosophical reasons, Schuchat said.

About half of those who got sick have been adults 20 or older. At least 43 people were hospitalized with measles complications—mainly pneumonia. There have been no deaths.

In this April 24, 2006 file photo, Darrie Hutchison, an R.N. at the Wichita Clinic draws a dose of mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine in Wichita, Kan. Measles cases in the last five months have caused more U.S. illnesses than in any entire year since 1996, according to numbers released by the Center for Disease control and Prevention on Thursday, May 29, 2014. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Mike Hutmacher, File) LOCAL TV OUT; MAGS OUT; LOCAL RADIO OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT

No measles deaths have been reported in the U.S. since 2003.

The measles virus is highly contagious, spreading easily through the air and in closed rooms. Infected droplets can linger for up to two hours after the sick person leaves.

It causes a fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. In rare cases, measles can be deadly, and is particularly dangerous for children. Infection can also cause pregnant women to have a miscarriage or premature birth.

Before a vaccine became available about 50 years ago, nearly all children got measles by their 15th birthday—that's hundreds of thousands of cases annually. In those days, nearly 500 Americans died from measles each year.

According to CDC records, the last time the nation saw this many cases in an entire year was 1996, when 508 were reported.

The last time this many cases was reported this early in the year was 1994, when 764 cases occurred in the first five months. The end-of-year tally turned out to be 963.

Schuchat encouraged doctors to be on the lookout for measles, and urged the public to be fully vaccinated—especially before traveling overseas.

Explore further: Measles off to a fast start, as US cases trend up

Related Stories

Measles off to a fast start, as US cases trend up

April 24, 2014
Health officials are worried about recent U.S. measles outbreaks that so far have caused more illnesses than at the same point of any year since 1996.

US measles tally already among worst in 15 years

September 12, 2013
(AP)—Health officials say 2013 already is one of the worst years for measles in more than 15 years.

Impact of rising incidence of measles discussed

April 25, 2014
(HealthDay)—With the rising incidence of measles, the importance of vaccination should be emphasized and precautions must be exercised in cases of suspected measles, according to a commentary piece published online April ...

Measles cases linked to US adoptions of Chinese children, CDC reports

April 10, 2014
(HealthDay)—A series of measles cases in the United States involving children adopted from China highlights the importance of vaccinations for any adopted child from overseas, a new report reveals.

Vaccine coverage high in U.S., but measles outbreaks a concern: CDC

September 13, 2013
(HealthDay)—Vaccination rates among America's children remain high, despite a serious resurgence of measles among unvaccinated children and adults, health officials reported Thursday.

Measles outbreaks on the rise across Europe

December 1, 2011
(AP) -- After years of decline, measles is on the rise in Europe, according to a new report released Thursday.

Recommended for you

Decrease in sunshine, increase in Rickets

November 17, 2017
A University of Toronto student and professor have teamed up to discover that Britain's increasing cloudiness during the summer could be an important reason for the mysterious increase in Rickets among British children over ...

Anti-malaria drug shows promise as Zika virus treatment

November 17, 2017
A new collaborative study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) and UC San Diego School of Medicine has found that a medication used to prevent and treat malaria may also be effective ...

Scientists identify biomarkers that indicate likelihood of survival in infected patients

November 17, 2017
Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease.

Research team unlocks secrets of Ebola

November 16, 2017
In a comprehensive and complex molecular study of blood samples from Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, published today (Nov. 16, 2017) in Cell Host and Microbe, a scientific team led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison has ...

Study raises possibility of naturally acquired immunity against Zika virus

November 16, 2017
Birth defects in babies born infected with Zika virus remain a major health concern. Now, scientists suggest the possibility that some women in high-risk Zika regions may already be protected and not know it.

A structural clue to attacking malaria's 'Achilles heel'

November 16, 2017
Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) have shed light on how the human immune system recognizes the malaria parasite though investigation of antibodies generated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.