Home Emergency Management News CDC: Measles Cases in US Last Year Were Highest Since 1992
CDC: Measles Cases in US Last Year Were Highest Since 1992

CDC: Measles Cases in US Last Year Were Highest Since 1992

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

There were 1,276 confirmed cases of measles in 31 states between January 1 and December 5, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported recently.

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“This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992,” the Atlanta-based federal health agency said. “The majority of cases are among people who were not vaccinated against measles.”

Largest Number of Measles Cases Occurred in Spring 2019

The CDC said the largest number of measles cases in 2019 occurred over a three-month period last spring. There were 342 confirmed cases in April, 303 in March and 180 cases in May. As a result, the CDC will now update the data monthly.

More than 75 percent of the cases nationwide were linked to outbreaks in New York City and surrounding counties, especially among “large, close-knit and under-vaccinated Orthodox Jewish communities,” according to an October 3 statement by the New York State Department of Health.

Seattle Enforces Ban on Unvaccinated Students to Prevent New Cases

New York is not alone is battling the highly contagious disease. During the holiday break, students in the Seattle public school system were told they would not be allowed to return to classes until they provide proof that they have been vaccinated against measles.

“Students must be vaccinated by Jan. 8 or they cannot attend classes,” US News & World Report said. “Proof of immunization must be provided to the school nurse, and families of students not up to date with their vaccines will receive notices.”

Measles Spreads through Inhalation or Skin Contact

As HealthPrep explained, measles “is a highly contagious viral infection that affects an individual’s respiratory system and skin.” The illness spreads when an unvaccinated individual inhales or makes contact with contaminated particles or surfaces.

“An individual who has been exposed to measles will begin to show symptoms between seven and fourteen days following their exposure. This infection can be spread during the four days prior to the rash manifestation until four days after the rash starts,” HealthPrep says.

The major warning signs of measles include:

  1. Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, occurs in almost all individuals who contract the measles. Conjunctivitis is a symptom that manifests in the early stages of the disease, and it is accompanied by other characteristic flu-like symptoms.
  2. A sore throat is best described as when an individual feels irritation, pain or scratchiness in his or her throat. The irritation or pain tends to worsen when that individual tries to eat food, swallow and speak.
  3. A high fever is characterized by a temporary but severe increase in the temperature of an individual’s body.
  4. Koplik’s spots are a characteristic symptom of measles that occurs inside the mouth. Koplik’s spots are described as “red rings with a tiny grain of white sand in their center.” They typically appear in the early phases of the measles infection along with other early flu-like symptoms. Most individuals will exhibit these spots around 48 hours before the measles skin rash appears. They subside by 48 hours following the beginning of the rash.
  5. A characteristic skin rash appears around three to five days following the initial onset of other symptoms. The measles rash starts off looking like flat reddened spots that initially appear on the hairline, face, and behind the ears. The rash will continue to spread down the neck and torso into the arms and hands and down to the legs and feet.

The CDC says most measles cases in the U.S. result from international travel because measles is still common in many countries. “Unvaccinated travelers bring measles into the U.S. and it can spread,” the agency warned.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated, especially if you plan on traveling abroad this year.

David Hubler David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published the paperback edition of David’s latest book, "The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation's Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever."