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[Above image: classic measles rash]
California’s Disney theme park-related measles outbreak has been declared over. No deaths were reported among the 147 patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The vast majority of cases were contained to California.
Measles is considered a highly contagious virus spread through the air by coughs and sneezes. CDC says it starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat and is followed by a full body rash.
Despite the nationwide alarm, a vast majority of states, 43, had no measles cases related to the California outbreak. Of 7 states reporting cases, 5 had just 1 to 3 patients.
The CDC says that like most measles outbreaks in the U.S., the likely source was a traveler who brought measles into the U.S. from a foreign country.
Although there was unusually large media hype as well as publicity by physicians and pundits, the California outbreak was not unusual. It was less than half the size of last year’s largest outbreak of 383 cases. There were 23 measles outbreaks in the U.S. last year. No deaths were reported among those cases, either.
Each year, there are measles outbreaks in the U.S. There are no reports of measles-related deaths reported in recent years, according to CDC.
The 2015 measles rate is, so far, below last year’s.
More information from CDC:
Why do we say measles is “eliminated” in the U.S. if there are outbreaks every year? The term “eliminated” is a bit of a misnomer. It simply means that measles is no longer “constantly” present.
The CDC says a majority of cases occur in unvaccinated people; however, a significant minority of cases occurs among those who have been vaccinated or whose vaccination status the government considers uncertain.
Besides California, there have been three other U.S. measles outbreaks this year. So far in 2015, 162 people from 19 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles. Most of the cases are from the California outbreak.
A majority of states have had no measles cases so far this year. Among the 19 states reporting measles, 14 had just 1 or 2 cases.
Measles resulted in an estimated 2.6 million worldwide deaths annually before measles vaccination became widespread in the 1980s.
1989-1991: There was a resurgence of measles with over 55,000 cases and 123 deaths reported.
In 2000, endemic measles was declared “eliminated” from the U.S.
From 2001-2011, 911 measles cases were reported.
Since 2001, US reported measles incidence has remained below 1 case per 1,000,000 population.
2008: 131 cases in 15 states, including 3 large outbreaks. Nobody died.
2011: 118 cases imported from at least 15 countries. Nine patients caught pneumonia. None died.
2013: 11 outbreaks with a total of 159 cases. Four measles patients caught pneumonia. None died.
2014: 23 outbreaks, many from the Philippines, including one large outbreak of 383 cases, primarily among unvaccinated Amish in Ohio. No deaths reported.