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1,249 cases of measles this year, yet elimination status appears safe :

October 4, 2019

It appears measles will remain an eliminated disease in the U.S., despite 1,249 cases and 22 outbreaks this year.

Outbreaks in New York City (NYC) and New York state (NYS) have ended just before reaching the one-year transmission mark that would have caused the U.S. to lose its status, federal health officials said Friday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II, J.D., credited the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with state and local health departments and religious leaders to improve vaccination and stop transmission.

“But this past year’s outbreak was an alarming reminder about the dangers of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation,” he said in a statement. “That is why the Trump Administration will continue making it a priority to work with communities and promote vaccination as one of the easiest things you can do to keep you and your family healthy and safe.”

The 1,249 measles cases this year occurred in 31 states and is the highest case count since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000, according to a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report(MMWR).

The median patient age was 6 years, and about 89% of patients were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status. About 10% were hospitalized.

About 75% of the cases were linked to outbreaks in NYC and NYS where there were pockets of low vaccination and high population density, especially among Orthodox Jewish communities, according to the MMWR. The outbreaks lasted 9.5 months and 10.5 months, respectively.

“Robust responses in NYC and NYS were effective in controlling transmission before the 1-year mark; however, continued vigilance for additional cases within these communities is essential to determine whether elimination has been sustained,” CDC experts wrote in the MMWR.

The CDC will work with the Pan American Health Organization in the coming months to verify that measles continues to be eliminated in the U.S. Officials said it is possible a new case will be discovered that is linked to the New York outbreaks.

The CDC and the Academy recommend children receive the first routine dose of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at 12-15 months and the second dose at 4-6 years.

The AAP has been working to improve vaccination rates by advocating for the elimination of nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine requirements and partnering with social media networks like Pinterest to make sure parents using their platforms are seeing credible, science-based information.

“CDC encourages Americans to embrace vaccination with confidence for themselves and their families,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D., said in a news release. “We want to emphasize that vaccines are safe. They remain the most powerful tool to preserve health and to save lives. The prevalence of measles is a global challenge, and the best way to stop this and other vaccine preventable diseases from gaining a foothold in the U.S. is to accept vaccines.”

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