The ongoing measles outbreak intensified yet again on Monday, June 10, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported there have now been over 1,000 reported cases of the measles so far in 2019. That's a 41 case increase from the previous week, pointing to the alarming rate at which the virus is spreading. To date, 28 states are impacted by the disease, putting over half the country on alert.
The CDC's report of 1,022 confirmed individual cases of measles is a record breaking number of individual measles cases, though that isn't the first time the disease has broken a record this year. There had already been more cases of the measles in 2019 than there had been in any other year since it was declared eradicated in 2000 in the United States, according to ABC News. Indeed, the past six months alone have seen more measles cases than the last four years combined, and The New York Times reported this is the highest number of outbreaks in one year in America in 25 years. Considering 2019 is only halfway over, these statistics are undoubtedly concerning.
The CDC's map of the states with confirmed cases thus far is also illuminating, as it provides a visual representation of just how much of the country has to be wary of the measles. (The CDC classifies three or more individual cases as an outbreak.) The states illustrated in dark blue are the ones with reported cases of measles, while light blue indicates there have been no reported cases.
Pretty alarming, right? The virus is spreading at the unprecedented rate as a result of both increased travelers to the U.S. who aren't vaccinated — there's been a 300 percent increase in measles cases around the world, according to ABC News — and unvaccinated Americans, according to the CDC. As Vox reported, two of the largest outbreaks the nation has seen, in New York and Washington, both took hold in "communities with high rates of people who opted out of vaccines on behalf of their children, making them more susceptible to entirely preventable diseases."
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the measles outbreak is that the MMR vaccine prevents measles, "one of the most contagious diseases on the planet," but infants can't receive the first dose of the vaccine until they're 12 months old, as Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician practicing in Kansas City, previously told Romper. This, in turn, puts babies at risk of catching the virus from those who choose not to be vaccinated. The anti-vaccination movement has gained momentum in the past decade, most likely in response to false correlations between autism and vaccinations and distrust in big pharma, as USA Today reported.
The key to protecting your family from measles is prevention, so make sure you and your loved ones have been vaccinated if you're able to be. And if you can't be vaccinated, you can take preventative measures like wearing masks, washing your hands, avoiding large groups of people, and checking to see if those around you have been vaccinated, particularly if you're in one of the states currently being impacted.