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2019 measles outbreak: How to track the spread in the US and other countries – CNET

Measles is making a comeback in 2019. 

Since January of this year, 22 states have experienced a total of 695 cases of measles, an infectious disease that was supposed to be eradicated almost two decades ago following an outbreak of more than 30,000 cases and a push to get everyone vaccinated -- twice. 

The most recent cases were found at two California university campuses, where nearly 300 students, staff and faculty are being quarantined due to being unvaccinated (or their inability to prove otherwise). Most people who get (and spread) measles have not been vaccinated.

"This year is the worst since 2000." said Dr. Sean O'Leary, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist working with the American Academy of Pediatrics. "There are more pockets now of parents who have chosen not to immunize their kids. And when someone with measles comes into that community, it spreads."

In a development largely attributed to the anti-vax movement, the disease is spreading in the US and around the globe. If you're planning on traveling, or just want to keep track of the outbreak, there are some things to be aware of. 

International measles outbreak map

Data aggregation company Metabiota has created an interactive map to track outbreaks of infectious diseases, including measles. To use the map, click the filter button (the magnifying glass on the far right) and choose measles. Now, you can see where the outbreaks are and how concentrated they are. 


Unfortunately, the data on this map seem to be about 10 days old. So if you're using this to help guide your travel or make other health-related decisions, be sure to cross-check it with a more recent data set, as outlined below. 

Tracking measles outbreaks by state

In the US, the best way to track the measles outbreak is by state, since measles tends to break out in geographic pockets.

State-specific is usually found on the websites of the federal Department of Health and Human Services or various state and local departments of public health, where near real-time details about measles cases and immunization rates are available.

Here are links to the measles outbreak data in the states currently experiencing outbreaks (3 or more cases):

Tracking immunization in the US 

Measles can be prevented by the MMR vaccine, which immunizes against measles, mumps and rubella. After two doses, people are considered immune and the vaccine is 97% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control

So how many kids are unvaccinated, and in which states? The American Academy of Pediatrics will show you in its interactive map. 

Despite the availability of the MMR vaccine, measles is spreading due to parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. The resistance to vaccinations, also called the anti-vax movement, is largely due to unfounded concerns that vaccinations cause developmental disease, such as autism. 

A recent Danish study and numerous other studies have shown no correlation. 

The anti-vax movement is instead fueled by a fraudulent paper from 1998 and the spread of misinformation through social media platforms like Facebook. So how can these outbreaks be stopped? O'Leary says it's this simple: "Get vaccinated. The only way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated. That's the only thing that's going to stop it." 

If you have had two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, says O'Leary, you're as protected as possible from the disease. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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