Measles continued to spread last week in the U.S., with 141 cases reported in 17 states and the District of Columbia between Jan. 1 to Feb. 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.
About 113 cases, or about 80 percent of the total, are part of a multistate outbreak stemming from a Disneyland Resort, the CDC said. The vast majority of cases linked to that outbreak are in California.
The new total represents a 16.5 percent increase in cases compared with the previous week, suggesting the outbreak is gradually slowing but far from under control, at least in California, health officials said.
Authorities are also tracking measles cases unrelated to the Disneyland outbreak. Of 20 new cases reported between Feb. 6 and 13, 10 were in California, for a total of 98 cases in that state. The number of measles cases in Illinois jumped to 11, from three a week earlier, and Nevada reported two new cases, for a total of four.
The CDC case count is smaller in some states than those currently reported by individual state health departments, because of a time lag in confirming and reporting illnesses. California had reported 113 cases as of Feb. 13, for example. The Illinois Department of Health said on its website that it has 14 confirmed measles cases. Most are tied to an outbreak at a day-care center in Palatine, Ill.
An infected infant in Atlanta, which was reported a week ago by the Georgia Department of Public Health as the state’s first case since 2012, wasn’t included in this week’s CDC count.
The multistate outbreak is believed to have started when a traveler who was infected with measles overseas visited Disneyland, though the specific source isn’t known, according to the CDC. An analysis of the virus causing this outbreak shows it is identical to a virus type that caused a large outbreak in the Philippines last year. But the virus type appears to be common: it has also been identified in 14 other countries and at least six U.S. states with cases that aren’t linked to the Disneyland outbreak.
Measles was eliminated from the country in 2000, but growing numbers of unvaccinated children are allowing the disease to make a comeback. The United States last year reported its highest number of measles cases in two decades, with 644 cases as part of 20 separate outbreaks. The 141 cases in the U.S. reported since Jan. 1 of this year are considered part of one outbreak.
Health officials are urging parents, schools and communities to vaccinate children against measles. The CDC says all children should get the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) between 12 and 15 months of age and again between 4 and 6 years old. According to the CDC, two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles.