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US Measles Hit Second Highest Level Since Disease Was Eliminated In 2000

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The measles outbreak in the United States has reached new heights, marking the second-greatest number of measles cases reported in the country since the disease was eliminated in 2000.

Measles In The United States

In the three-month period from Jan. 1 to March 28, there have been 387 individual cases of measles confirmed in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The highest number of reported measles cases since 2000 occurred in 2014.

States with confirmed measles cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

Six outbreaks are ongoing in Rockland County in the state of New York, New York City, Washington, Santa Cruz County and Butte County in California, and New Jersey. Outbreaks are classified in areas with three or more cases of the contagious disease.

These outbreaks have been traced back to travelers who visited countries with ongoing measles outbreaks including Israel, the Philippines, and Ukraine.

Experts Stress Importance Of Vaccination

Measles is an extremely contagious viral disease that's spread in the air.

CDC recommends the MMR vaccine, which protects an individual against three different diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. The vaccine is completely safe and effective with a single dose being about 93 percent effective in measles prevention and two doses being 97 percent effective.

Before the measles vaccination program began in 1963, 3 to 4 million people get measles every year in the United States. Since the measles vaccine was introduced, there have been an over 99 percent decrease in measles cases in the country.

However, unvaccinated people still run the risk of contracting measles from either traveling or contact with a traveler who picked up the infection from another country where measles may still be common.

To prevent the further spread of measles, New York's Rockland County has already declared a state of emergency and banned unvaccinated minors from public spaces.

Measles, A Growing Problem All Around the World

According to NPR, there are two kinds of measles problems: vaccine inaccessibility and vaccine hesitancy.

Countries such as Madagascar and Yemen struggle with the disease due to the unavailability of vaccines, whether this is due to prices or location.

On the other end of the spectrum are wealthier countries such as the United States, Japan, and many European countries. In these places, the immunity has fallen because of people's hesitation to be vaccinated or have their children vaccinated.

Then there are countries like the Philippines, which suffers from both vaccine hesitancy and inaccessibility.

"We're going to still need to maintain population immunity for some time until we can actually get vaccination levels high all over the world, so that no one is at risk," Amesh Adalja from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security tells NPR, adding that keeping numbers down is challenging because it's so contagious. "And then the anti-vaccine movement has just set that whole effort back a long way."

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