Measles cases in first three months of this year already top 2018 total

There are more cases of measles in the first three months of 2019 than there were in all of last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC has confirmed 387 cases of measles between Jan. 1 and March 28. In 2018, there were 372 cases total.  

ADVERTISEMENT

It's the second-greatest number of measles cases reported in the U.S. since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.

The worst year for measles since then was in 2014, when 667 cases were reported. 

But the U.S. is already on track to beat that record. Cases have been confirmed in 15 states, with six ongoing outbreaks in four states. 

The outbreaks are linked to unvaccinated travelers returning to the U.S. from countries where large measles outbreaks are occurring, like Israel and Ukraine. 

Outbreaks can occur when someone infected with the measles returns to communities in the U.S. where there are high numbers of people who are unvaccinated. Some outbreaks last year primarily impacted Orthodox Jewish communities.

The CDC recommends travelers make sure they are vaccinated against the measles before traveling internationally. 

Vaccine rates have dropped slightly in recent years, mostly among children, health experts say, due to the spread of misinformation online about vaccine safety. 

While every state requires that students receive certain vaccines before starting school, most states also allow exemptions for religious or personal beliefs.

According to the CDC, the measles vaccine is 97 percent effective.