By Jesse Stiller
Measles cases in the U.S. soared past 700 and continue to grow amidst the worst outbreak of the once-declared eradicated disease in recent memory. The New York Times reported on April 29 that there have been 700 confirmed cases of measles in the recent outbreak, which surpassed the 667 cases reported in 2014.
A map published by the New York Times shows that most of the cases originated in Kings and Queens Counties in New York, with some sporadic cases in Ocean and Monmouth Counties in New Jersey. There are also reported cases popping up in the states on the west coast and along the Mexican border.
In one example of measles-related situations, according to the New York Times, nearly 800 students and faculty at the University of California in Los Angeles were quarantined on the suspicion of contracting measles, according to The New York Times. Those in quarantine were ordered to stay home and not to ride on public transportation. Over half of the students and faculty have been deemed safe and have been released from quarantine.
PBS reported that the 700-plus total so far is the highest on record since 1994, when 963 cases of measles were reported. Forty-four of the cases were reported from people who had contracted the disease while they were in a foreign country, potentially sparking the U.S. outbreaks.
According to CBS News, most of the measles cases were affecting unvaccinated children in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in New York City. New York legislators announced they will propose a law that will no longer allow non-medical excuses not to have children vaccinated.
“‘Immediacy of action is critical,’” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day in a recent press conference, according to CBS News.
So far this year, nine percent of people with measles have been sent to the hospital, while three percent later contracted pneumonia, according to CBS News.
“Health care providers should vaccinate persons without contraindications and without acceptable evidence of immunity to measles before travel to any country outside the United States,” the Centers for Disease Control said in a press release on April 29.
According to the press release, 71 percent of measles patients were unvaccinated, while 11 percent of those infected received a vaccination. However, as of April 29, no deaths have been attributed to the outbreak.
“Unimmunized or underimmunized subpopulations within U.S. communities are at risk for large outbreaks of long duration that are resource intensive to control.” The CDC said. “Recent outbreaks have been driven by misinformation about measles and MMR vaccine, which has led to undervaccination in vulnerable communities.”
The CDC reiterated that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination is a highly effective method for minimizing outbreaks, while those who are not vaccinated and traveling outside the country are at risk.