2024 U.S. Measles Cases Exceed Total From Previous Year

Measles Cases Spike in US, Surpassing Last Year’s Total

Measles cases have seen a significant spike in the United States over the last three months, with a total of 64 cases reported across 17 states so far this year. This already surpasses last year’s total of 59 cases, raising concerns among health officials.

Outbreaks have been centered in various locations, including a migrant shelter in Chicago, an elementary school in southeast Florida, and a children’s hospital and daycare in Philadelphia. Most cases reported this year have been linked to international travel, with a majority among children who had not received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Chicago has been hit particularly hard, reporting 33 cases, including 22 cases among children under age 5. The majority of infections in Chicago have been connected to an ongoing outbreak at a migrant shelter in the Pilsen neighborhood. Similarly, Pennsylvania and Florida have also seen an increase in cases, with Pennsylvania reporting nine cases from December to January and Florida recording its most recent case on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 11.

Vaccination rates against measles have declined in recent years, with 95% of U.S. kindergartners receiving two doses of the MMR vaccine dropping to 93% in the 2022-23 school year. This decline in vaccination rates has raised concerns about the potential for more outbreaks in the future.

Measles is highly contagious, with an infected person able to spread it to up to 90% of people close to them if they are not immune. Symptoms of measles include a high fever, cough, pink eye, runny nose, and a blotchy rash that spreads across the body.

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Before the measles vaccine became available in 1963, thousands of people were hospitalized and hundreds died each year in the U.S. from the disease. Today, 1 in 5 unvaccinated people who get measles are hospitalized, and 1 to 3 out of every 1,000 children with measles die from complications, according to the CDC. This underscores the importance of vaccination in preventing the further spread of this potentially deadly disease.

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