U.S. federal health officials said on Monday the number of confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year jumped by almost 20% in the week ended 11 April - the country's second-worst outbreak in almost two decades.
"This is a very significant outbreak", she says.
The states that have reported cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Measles has been reported in 20 states this year, with notable outbreaks in NY and Washington. "These cases were imported from other countries, but because of low vaccination coverage in these communities, measles is spreading widely throughout these communities".
Meanwhile, a group of anti-vaccination parents claims city officials overstepped their bounds - and violated their religious beliefs - by imposing an emergency order last week making measles vaccinations mandatory, according to a lawsuit filed early Monday.
Health officials say they have seen anti-vaccination pamphlets containing misinformation being distributed in the affected parts of Brooklyn. If the current trend continues, the record of 667 cases set in 2014 will be eclipsed well before the end of this year. "Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases", WHO further said.
Most of the Brooklyn cases are among children. And the European Union is tallying about a thousand cases a month.
Experts point to one reason for this year's large outbreak: the power of the anti-vaccination movement. Across the globe, the number of cases has increased 300% to more than 112,000 cases in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 28,000 at this time a year ago.
Health officials in Rockland County, New York, tried to bar unvaccinated children from public places, but a judge prohibited the county from enforcing that rule.
Measles can be an extremely serious disease. About 10 percent of children develop ear infections, which can cause permanent hearing damage. In these cases, the virus moves to the brain, causing encephalitis and convulsions. Children can be left deaf, blind or with mental retardation - if they recover.
Before the development of the measles vaccine in the 1960s, the US recorded almost a half million cases each year, the CDC says. Several people had to be hospitalized but no fatalities had been reported as of last week.