The Wall Street Journal report: So far this year there have been 387 confirmed U.S. measles cases, more than 2018’s full-year total and the second-largest number since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000 (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease has spread to 15 states in 2019, with six continuing outbreaks of three or more cases each in Washington, New York, New Jersey and California. The development has sparked new policies aimed at boosting inoculation and curbing misinformation about the measles vaccine.
Measles cases have has risen since 2000 as infected travelers bring the disease to the U.S. Those travelers – unvaccinated foreign nationals or Americans who become infected abroad – have spread the highly contagious disease to others in the U.S. who aren’t vaccinated or hadn’t previously had measles. These cases have fueled outbreaks in communities where large numbers of people haven’t been inoculated because of personal or religious exemptions to the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The largest growth in infections since measles was eliminated totaled 23 outbreaks and 667 cases in 2014. Last year there were 17 outbreaks and 372 confirmed cases. The number of cases in 2019 could increase in the coming months. Measles is a seasonal disease, with cases rising in late winter and early spring in temperate climates, according to the World Health Organization.