Measles outbreak hits record-high since the virus was declared eliminated in 2000, CDC reports
- On Wednesday, the CDC reported 681 people have caught measles this year
- Previously, the highest rate since 2000 was 2014 with 667 cases in the whole year
- But in less than four months, there have been more cases this year
The rate of measles recorded in the US in the first few months of this year has eclipsed every other year since the virus was declared eliminated in 2000.
New CDC figures reveal 681 people in 22 states have been diagnosed this year, outpacing the 667 people diagnosed in the whole of 2014.
The surge in numbers, up from 626 reported on Monday, has been driven by the outbreak in New York City, which recorded 61 new cases today.
The resurgence of the virus, which was all but eliminated in 2000, follows a years-long rise in the number of Americans shunning the vaccine, which is the only treatment against measles.
New CDC figures reveal 681 people in 22 states have been diagnosed this year, outpacing the 667 people diagnosed in the whole of 2014
At first, all attention was on Washington and Portland, where the virus was flourishing in Russian-American communities that distrust vaccines.
But in the last month, that caseload was swiftly eclipsed by New York’s.
As of last week, 329 people in Brooklyn, New York City, had contracted measles, and most of them were unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities, according to health officials.
Rockland County, north of New York City, has 199 confirmed cases, and that outbreak has spilled out into the neighboring Westchester County, which has recorded eight cases.
New York is also responsible for an outbreak in Michigan, after an Israeli traveler who spent the winter in Brooklyn drove to Detroit to continue his country-wide tour fundraising for an Orthodox Jewish charity. Though the measles outbreak started in Brooklyn in October, it wasn’t until the night the traveler set off, in early March, that he started showing symptoms. A week later, 38 people in Michigan had measles.
The community is largely opposed to vaccines because of lines in the Torah, which can be read to mean worshippers should not put foreign bodies in their own body.
Normally, that would be accepted by most states, which allow for religious exemption from vaccines.
But New York took a strong stance to ban religious exemptions two weeks ago in a bid to control the outbreak.
The move was strategically pulled a week before Passover, which is this week and marks a time when families travel around the city to various community events.
In the two weeks since Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency, around 1,000 children in the epicenter neighborhood (Williamsburg) have been vaccinated, five schools have been closed, and three parents have been issued court summons for refusing to vaccinate their children.
Public health experts say the extremity of the policies could further push vaccine-skeptical groups away from the medical establishment.
But Mayor de Blasio insists it is the right course of action – even more so since defeating a lawsuit from five families that claimed the state of emergency was unlawful and anti-Semitic.