Published: Tue, April 16, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Measles Cases Jump 20% in One Week

Measles Cases Jump 20% in One Week

The number of measles cases in the United States made its biggest jump of the year, with 90 new cases reported in just one week, according to numbers released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists are concerned measles could return even though it was "eliminated" in the US 20 years ago.

The 2019 tally is already the most since 2014, when 667 were reported.

Five parents filed a lawsuit with the New York State court against the city's health department on Monday, requesting a halt to emergency orders requiring the measles vaccine on the grounds that it goes against their religious beliefs. The total so far is the second-greatest number of cases reported since 2000.

The six current outbreaks, in California, New Jersey, New York and Washington states, are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring, the CDC said.

The number of measles cases across the U.S. rose for the third week in a row, bringing the total to 555 - the highest number in the past five years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

While vaccines are required for school children across the country, nearly all states allow exemptions for families who say it's against their religious beliefs, and 17 states allow a parent to opt out for philosophical or personal reasons.

Measles, which is highly contagious, can be entirely prevented through a two-dose vaccine, but the World Health Organization has in recent months sounded the alarm over declining global vaccination rates. But when an worldwide traveler exposed to measles overseas brings the disease into the country, pockets of unvaccinated communities within the USA enable the disease to spread. The city said those individuals who become infected with measles and chose not to get vaccinated since the mandatory order would be fined $1,000 dollars.

In an opinion piece for CNN, WHO heads Henrietta Fore and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world was "in the middle of a measles crisis" and that "the proliferation of confusing and contradictory information" about vaccines was partly to blame.

"There is insufficient evidence of a measles epidemic or unsafe outbreak to justify the respondents' extraordinary measures, including forced vaccination", said the lawsuit, identifying the parents only by their initials. And that measles is far from harmless.

According to the CDC, as many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young kids.

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