U.S. on track for most measles cases in more than a decade

With 89 cases reported so far this year, the United States may be on track for more measles cases than any year in over a decade, with nearly all of the cases linked to other countries.

The U.S. typically sees around 50 cases of measles each year as a result of vaccinations, the Washington Post reports.

Currently, there is an outbreak of measles in Europe, especially France, with over 6,500 cases reported in 33 nations.

Nearly all of the U.S. outbreaks have been sparked by people bringing it to the country from other countries. International health officials have posted an alert this week urging travelers to get the recommended two doses of vaccine before flying overseas.

Dr. Greg Wallace, leader of the measles, mumps, rubella and polio team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said officials are reluctant to make predictions and are aware that the infection pace is unusually high.

“It’s hard to say, but we’re certainly getting a lot,” Dr. Wallace said, according to the Washington Post. “Measles is really the most contagious of the vaccine-preventable diseases. It has a knack for finding those who have not been vaccinated.”
Up to 90 percent of people exposed to a person infected with measles get sick. Symptoms of the disease include runny nose, eye inflammation, fever and rash all over the body. There have been no measles deaths reported in the United States since 2003. Before the vaccine became widespread nearly 50 years ago, about 450 to 500 Americans died from the measles each year.