US Measles Count Soars to 764, Driven by New York Outbreaks

Twenty-three states have reported cases, but the vast majority have been in New York — mainly in New York City and in nearby Rockland County

What to Know

  • The number of U.S. measles cases connected to the current outbreak hit 764 as of Thursday, the CDC said Monday
  • The burgeoning national outbreak has been fueled by outbreaks in New York, primarily in the city and Rockland County
  • New York City has seen more than 420 cases, while Rockland County has seen more than 210, authorities said

Five dozen more measles cases have been reported across the nation, an 8 percent increase over the prior week as the case total in the U.S.' worst outbreak in decades edges closer to a stunning 800, officials said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 764 cases had been reported as of last Thursday. It's the most in the U.S. since 1994, when 963 were reported, and has been fueled by outbreaks in New York.

Another 41 new cases were reported in New York City, which now has more than 420 patients, and 11 new cases in New York's Rockland County, which took the dramatic step a few weeks ago of banning unvaccinated minors from indoor public places in an effort to control the spread. As of May 3, Rockland County had 214 confirmed measles cases connected to the current outbreak. 

For a deeper dive on how measles made a comeback in New York, and whether you might need to get a booster shot, listen to NBC New York's latest episode of The Debrief podcast. On Apple podcasts here, on all other devices here

Thus far, 23 states have reported cases. Pennsylvania became the latest state over the last reporting period, the CDC said. New Jersey's health department hasn't updated its online measles total since April 23, when 14 cases were reported in Ocean County. 

Most of the New York cases have been unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities. A New York City emergency declaration that bans unvaccinated youth from attending school or day care in four Brooklyn ZIP codes includes highly Orthodox parts of Williamsburg, but also covers places like Fort Greene.

Overall, three-quarters of those who caught the extremely contagious disease are children or teenagers. No deaths have been reported this year, but dozens of patients were hospitalized. Many patients contracted the disease while traveling aboard and were not vaccinated, authorities said. 

Measles in most people causes fever, a runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. A very small fraction of those infected can suffer complications such as pneumonia and a dangerous swelling of the brain. According to the CDC, for every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.

The return of measles may be an early warning sign of a resurgences of other vaccine-preventable diseases such as rubella, chickenpox and bacterial meningitis, some experts say.

In recent decades, health officials have relied on doctors to prod families to vaccinate their children against measles and other diseases. That push has been bolstered by requirements in every state that children be vaccinated to attend public schools. But as vaccination rates have fallen in some communities and cases exploded, officials recently have taken more dramatic steps.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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