The worst measles outbreak in the United States in 25 years has spread to Oklahoma, federal health officials said on Monday, when they reported 41 new cases across the country, causing the total number of people to fall ill this year to 880 people.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 4.9 percent increase in measles cases from 10 May to 17 May in an outbreak that has now reached 24 states.
The agency provides weekly updates every Monday.
The CDC said there was one confirmed case in Oklahoma.
Most new cases were in New York, said CDC spokesman Jason McDonald, with 21 cases registered in New York City and nine in Rockland County.
Measles outbreaks have been reported in 24 states and have added Oklahoma to the list, with the highest rate occurring in New York
Health experts say the virus has spread to school-aged children whose parents have refused to give them the vaccine, providing immunity to the disease.
A vocal edge from American parents, some in the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in New York, raise concerns that the vaccine can cause autism, despite scientific studies that have invalidated such claims.
& # 39; New York City and state outbreaks are the largest … the longer they continue, the greater the chance of measles regaining ground in the United States & # 39 ;, said Dr. Nancy Messonier.
And experts in the field of infectious diseases expect that the number of cases will only continue to increase.
& # 39; One of the problems is that these outbreaks are so large that they last forever & # 39 ;, says Dr. Frank Esper, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Cleveland Clinic.
& # 39; Think of it as forest fires in California: when it is a large number of smaller ones, it is quickly checked, but if a fire is the measles extremely contagious and if it gets huge, it can take a while [to get under control] ]. & # 39;
In an effort to prevent the spread of measles, the mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, declared a state of emergency calling for everyone of all ages in the zip codes affected by the measles outbreak.
Although the virus was eliminated from the country in 2000, meaning that the disease was no longer a constant presence, outbreaks still occur through travelers from countries where measles is still common, according to the CDC.
Experts warn that the outbreak is not over, since the number of cases approaches the total of 958 in 1994. That was the highest number since 1992, when the CDC registered 2,126 cases.
More than 40 people in 2019 brought measles to the United States from other countries, mostly Ukraine, Israel and the Philippines, federal officials said.
Vulnerable, religious and island communities are particularly & # 39; target & # 39; of disinformation campaigns, said Dr. Messonier, although officials said they could not determine why these groups & # 39; targets & # 39; to be.
Those born before 1957 are believed to have been exposed to the disease.
Health officials say they have not seen any signs that immunity is declining so far, but are urging everyone to talk to their caregivers and check their admission data.
Someone over 30 may still not have the antibodies they need to fight the circulating infection.
However, Dr. Esper notes that testing of the MMR vaccine has shown that it is effective against the strain that is currently engulfing the US.
Earlier this month, President Trump joined the choir and urged parents to vaccinate their children in a shift from his tweets from a few years ago that warned of links between the BMR vaccine and autism.
Asked whether he thought President Trump should publicly disapprove of his earlier tweets and sentiments, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar defended Trump.
& # 39; A few years ago there was a debate on that issue, & # 39; said Azar.
& # 39; We can certainly reassure every parent that there is no connection between vaccines and autism & # 39 ;, he said, adding that the president's statement last week was a & # 39; strong & # 39; attitude towards vaccination and measles outbreak.
& # 39; The president has been very clear that people need to take their photos … and make sure they are up-to-date, "Azar said.
Dr. Esper says that changing the melodies as President Trump has done, & actually is exactly what we would like to see.
& # 39; Someone who was against the vaccine in 2014 is now telling you to take your vaccine and that's what we want to see. & # 39;
Although the outbreak of one state has ended, health officials said they expect more cases to be reported in the coming days.
& # 39; I suspect that we will still see more cases, but the speed with which they go up will depend on how good the current outbreaks are & # 39 ;, says Dr. Esper.
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