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More than 800 cases of measles in US, with NY outbreak continuing to lead

Posted at 9:48 AM, May 13, 2019

The number of measles cases in the US is now at 839 for the year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly measles update .

That's 75 more cases than the agency reported last week and is inching closer to the 963 cases reported in 1994 which is the highest number of cases in a year in the last 25 years.

Last month, the number of cases this year became the highest number of cases in a single year since the virus was declared eliminated in the US in 2000. The designation means measles was no longer being transmitted within the country.

Some good news this week is that no new states reported cases, leaving the number of states unchanged at 23. The states that have reported measles cases this year are Arizona , California , Colorado , Connecticut , Florida , Georgia , Illinois , Indiana , Iowa , Kentucky , Maryland , Massachusetts , Michigan , Missouri , Nevada , New Hampshire , New Jersey , New York , Oregon , Pennsylvania , Texas , Tennessee and Washington .

But still troubling: 66 of the 75 new cases were in New York, according to a source familiar with the measles situation in the US. Of those cases, 41 were reported by New York City and 25 were reported by Rockland County. These areas are home to the Orthodox Jewish communities that have been reporting an increasing number of cases since October.

The outbreak there began when an unvaccinated child traveled to Israel and returned home with the highly contagious disease, New York City health officials have said. That child then infected others and the number of cases grew.

An infected person from New York visited Detroit and unknowingly spread the virus which lead to an outbreak in Michigan.

State health officials in Connecticut said one case there was a resident who had visited New York.

Seven months in, New York City and state health officials have failed to contain the outbreak as indicated by the number of cases continuing to be reported.

As of Friday the New York State Department of Health reported 272 cases of measles since the outbreak began in October, 162 of those cases have been reported this year. That does not include the cases in New York City which totaled 466 as of Tuesday; 410 of those have been reported this year. Including the 51 new cases counted by the CDC in its national update Monday, the total number for New York state, including New York City, this year is 623, according to CNN's calculation.

New York City and Rockland county have each taken separate steps to contain the outbreak.

Last week New York City health officials said 84 summonses had been issued for violations to people who are unvaccinated and they could be fined as per an emergency declaration that was issued in April.

This week a new awareness campaign is set to be released by the New York City health department with ads on bus shelters, in publications and elsewhere targeting the communities in English and Yiddish.

Since October 1, health officials there say they've administered nearly 23,000 doses of the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine and that more than 11,000 of those doses were administered in Williamsburg, where more than 80% of the New York City cases have occurred.

According to the Rockland County Health Department , more than 20,000 doses of the MMR vaccine have been administered there since October.

The vaccine is 93% effective against measles after one dose and 97% effective after two doses.

The CDC recommends two doses of the MMR vaccine: the first dose for children when they are between 12 and 15 months old and the second when children are 4 to 6 years old.

Babies between 6 months and 12 months should be vaccinated before international travel or if they live in a community experiencing an outbreak. That dose may not offer lasting protection, so the other two doses should be administered as recommended for routine vaccination.

Babies who are traveling to or living in an area with an ongoing outbreak who have had a first dose at 12 months to 15 months do not need to wait until age 4 for that second dose; rather, they can and should get it anytime after 28 days from the first vaccination.

As for adults, the CDC recommends that those who were born during or after 1957 who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR. Those born before 1957 are assumed to have had measles and are therefore immune and don't need to be vaccinated.