BALTIMORE – The number of measles cases in the United States has risen to 121 since the start of the new year, a federal health official said Monday.
Those cases were reported in 17 states and the District between Jan. 1 and Feb. 6. And the figure is higher than the typical number of cases the U.S. experiences annually.
Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of the Division of Viral Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, disclosed the latest numbers during a Measles Symposium at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Monday morning.
“The vast majority of those cases are part of a multi-state outbreak, an outbreak that started in southern California and is linked to two theme amusement parks there,” Seward says.
“Our level of concern is quite high,” Seward says, “In the 10 years between 2001 and 2011, right after the U.S. declared that measles was no longer a disease that occurred in the country naturally year round, we had about 60 cases of measles reported in a year. We’ve had a hundred in a month, so we are quite concerned,” Seward says.
No cases of the measles have been reported in Virginia or Maryland so far this year, according to CDC figures.
The CDC also reported that 2014 was a record year for measles cases. In total, 644 cases in 27 states were reported – the largest number since the illness was deemed eliminated in 2000.
Last year, the CDC tracked 23 measles outbreaks, including one outbreak that infected 383 people – most who lived in largely unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio. Many of the 2014 cases stemmed from an outbreak in the Philippines, according to the CDC.
In 2013, the CDC tracked 11 outbreaks.