United States measles cases top record, putting elimination status at risk

Measles infected travelers could be banned from flying | USA TODAY

A vocal fringe of parents oppose vaccines.

The tally is the highest in the U.S. since 1994, when the total number of cases for the year hit 963.

It's been 27 years since the nation saw this many measles cases - 2,237 cases were reported in 1992.

The number of U.S. measles patients has reached a record high and may cause the nation to lose its "measles elimination status", USA health officials say. That eclipses the 963 measles illnesses reported for all of 1994. "The greater danger is the disease that vaccination prevents".

While cases have been recorded nationwide, the latest uptick is largely fueled by two hotbeds in New York City and Rockland County, New York, where cases have continued for seven months among ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities that typically do not vaccinate their children.

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Vaccinations against the incredibly contagious virus remain high, but USA health officials say they are strengthening state and local programs aimed at spreading the word that the safest and most effective way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated.

Such tactics may strike some as heavy-handed, but they have been validated through decades of case law, said Mark Ustin, head of the health care compliance and lobbying practices at the NY law firm Farrell Fritz.

"Measles is preventable and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated, do get vaccinated". It started when some unvaccinated children visited Israel, where a measles outbreak was occurring. Forty-two people have been hospitalized, including 12 treated in intensive care units.

More than 25,000 doses of vaccine have been given to children and teenagers in Williamsburg and Borough Park since October. Those caught unvaccinated in four Brooklyn ZIP codes can face fines up to $1,000. But health officials say it has been reintroduced by people who have traveled to other countries.

In a new research development, a profile of measles illnesses in children in two Minnesota outbreaks found high hospitalization rates and costs and that poor feeding and secondary bacterial infections were among the complications from the disease.

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