Rise in Measles Cases Prompts CDC Warning

Increase threatens disease's elimination status in US, report says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2024 7:15 PM CDT
Rise in Measles Cases Prompts CDC Warning

An increase in the spread of measles has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerned about whether the disease will no longer be considered eliminated in the US. The number of cases recorded in the first quarter of this year equals about 30% of the total cases logged since the beginning of 2020, CNBC reports—almost double last year's total, per the AP. Measles was eliminated in the US in 2000, meaning there had been no outbreak for at least a year. The CDC said elimination "reduces the number of cases, deaths, and costs that would occur if endemic measles transmission were reestablished."

The agency's report says the rise in cases "represents a renewed threat to elimination." It calls for greater "routine measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination coverage"—one dose covers all three—saying that more than 90% of the measles cases recorded since January 2020 were among people who were not vaccinated or were of unknown vaccination status. For the moment, "risk for widespread US measles transmission remains low because of high population immunity," it says. But measles vaccination rates in the US have been dropping. Communities need around 95% vaccination coverage to prevent sustained measles transmission, but rates in 12 states and the District of Columbia were below 90% for the 2022-23 school year.

The US will always be affected by changes in global vaccination rates and measles incidence, the agency report said. One expert said public health agencies are reaching out to communities with low vaccination rates, per CNN. "However, the increase in misinformation about measles vaccination undermines these efforts and could ultimately endanger our elimination status," said Dr. Marcus Plescia. (More measles stories.)

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