Thanks to anti-vaxxers the United States has reported 465 cases of the measles so far this year. According to the CDC, 78 cases were confirmed in the last week alone. 2019 is on pace to have the most measles cases since the United States eradicated the virus in 2000.
On the weekly measles outbreak data provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the numbers of cases are surging. Only weeks ago the virus had been reported in just ten states. Now the CDC says that 19 states have confirmed at least one instance of the virus.
Last week the CDC reported only 15 states impacted by the measles and 387 cases. In just a week, four states joined the list and 78 new cases. Since the beginning of 2019, the CDC has reported almost a dozen outbreaks.
Despite efforts to contain outbreaks, there are still on-going outbreaks in New York City, Rockland County, New York, New Jersey, Santa Cruz County, California, Butte County, California, Michigan, and Washington.
A break down of the cases:
Rockland County: 167 cases since the outbreak started in fall 2018
New York City: 259 cases since the outbreak began in fall 2018
New Jersey: 13 cases since the outbreak was declared in March 2019
Washington: 74 cases since January 2019
California: 17 cases in 2019
According to the CDC, all of the reported cases of measles are connected to international travel. Individuals picked up the virus in countries like Isreal, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Despite measles outbreaks in Europe and the Philippines, anti-vaxxers continue to travel abroad without obtaining vaccinations before they leave.
Due to the travel-related measles outbreaks, the CDC is urging anyone traveling outside of the United States to get up to date with their vaccinations.
Additionally, the CDC states that the majority of all the measles cases are occurring in unvaccinated individuals. The bulk of the cases are in children.
Due to low vaccination rates in some communities, a single traveler can infect hundreds of people. The virus is so contagious that 90% of people exposed to the measles will contract the virus if they are not vaccinated.
Outbreaks that started in 2018 maintain a stronghold in New York and New Jersey. In 2018, the CDC says that there were a total of 17 outbreaks in the United States.
However, the bulk of the cases in 2018 came from New York and New Jersey. Additionally, these outbreaks impacted the Orthodox Jewish community the most.
Because New York has been unable to contain their outbreak, the measles spread to Michigan last month. A traveler visited New York and Michigan.While in New York, the traveler most likely became exposed. The single person brought the virus into Oakland County which resides within the Detroit Metro Area. As a result, Michigan reported 38 cases in less than a month.
As more states are added to the CDC’s growing list, more outbreaks will most certainly begin in other parts of the country. There are dozens and dozens of communities around the U.S. that have vaccination rates below herd immunity levels.
Despite the growing number of cases, states with personal exemptions have failed to remove their personal and religious exemptions. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that only three states in the country ban both religious and personal exemptions which are California, West Virginia, and Mississippi.
Without the removal of these exemptions, the United States will continue to be susceptible to measles outbreaks. The Federal government has not said if they will impose Federal mandates for vaccinations.
Anti-vax propaganda has taken hold of the United States. For nearly 20 years, vaccination rates have dropped around the United States. With more people opting out, Americans will need to start thinking of measles outbreaks as the norm and no longer an exception.
The measles is back everyone. Sit tight; this year is only going to get worse.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
Merchandise available at Teespring.
Buy Katie Joy a cup of Coffee.
Individuals wishing to help Katie with her expenses can become patrons. Patrons gain exclusive access to stories, new projects, and future books.