Measles was eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but 2019 has seen a record number of cases reported. So far, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 695 cases, which exceed the previous record of 667 cases in 2014. Worldwide, the disease continues to spread with many millions of children not receiving measles shots in the last several years.
Investigating the Numbers
The CDC has released a statement discussing the high measles numbers and providing the reasons behind the surge recorded this year. A few major measles outbreaks have caused the high numbers. Two of these were in New York City and in New York State. These began towards the end of 2018 and are said to be the longest and largest seen in the country since 2000 when the disease was eliminated. The long duration of the outbreaks is worrisome because it gives the measles virus an opportunity to gain ground in the U.S. once again. Another outbreak also took place in Washington State.
The current rise in measles cases is not just in the U.S. but in many countries in the world. An estimated 169 million kids worldwide were not vaccinated against measles during the years of 2010–2017 according to UNICEF. The global organization is raising awareness about the inadequate control measures to curb the spread of the virus as they launch World Immunization Week.
UNICEF is also highlighting that measles control is not only possible but inexpensive and effective. The vaccine is safe, and it works well. The decline in child vaccinations is being witnessed in both high-income countries and low-income countries around the world. For developing countries and war-torn regions, inaccessibility, poor funding, and logistical challenges are often behind the lower vaccination coverage. For first world countries such as the U.S. and European nations, the major obstacle is a growing resistance to vaccines in general.