64% More Measles Cases Last Year
When measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000, most public health leaders pointed to effective vaccination efforts.
However, when measles cases began to appear in 2010, unvaccinated international travelers visiting the U.S. were identified as a global challenge in eliminating this airborne virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In recent years, measles outbreaks have become a worldwide health risk.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on January 29, 2024, that 534,672 suspected measles cases were reported in 169 Member States in 2023.
This data represents a 64% increase in measles cases compared to 2022.
As January 2024 ends, measles cases have recently been reported in Delaware, New Jersey, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
According to a COCA Now message issued on January 24, 2024, the U.S. CDC was notified of 23 confirmed U.S. cases of measles between December 2023 and January 23, 2024.
This new CDC data compares with only 48 measles cases during 2023.
This uptick in measles cases could also be related to student undervaccinations.
A CBS News investigation revealed on January 30, 2024, that at least 8,500 U.S. schools have low measles vaccination rates.
The report highlights that vaccination rates among kindergartners fall below the CDC's 95% threshold for community protection against measles.
The WHO recently wrote, Given the challenges related to the persistence of low coverage of the first and second doses of the vaccine against measles, rubella, and mumps (MMR), the increase in measles cases globally, and the occurrence of imported cases places everyone at risk.
The Pan American Health Organization / WHO urges Member States to continue with activities to increase and maintain adequate vaccination coverage against measles, rubella, and mumps. It reiterates that vaccination, epidemiological surveillance, and preparation of rapid response are needed to curtail measles outbreaks in 2024.
In late 2023, the CDC issued a Level 1 - Practice Usual Precautions, Travel Health Notice, identifying 47 countries at risk for measles exposure.
This CDC says travelers are at risk of measles if they have not been fully vaccinated two weeks before departure or have not had measles in the past and travel internationally to areas where measles is spreading.
In the U.S., measles vaccines are generally available at most health clinics and local pharmacies.