June 10 (UPI) — Measles cases in the have hit a record number of 1,022, as outbreaks continue to plague patches of the United States.
The updated number of cases, announced Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is 40 more than last Monday’s official report and more than 20 more than last Thursday’s report, when the number first crossed the 1,000 case mark.
The number of confirmed measles cases, spread across 28 states, is the most since 1992, as well as the most since the disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.
“The 1,000th case of a preventable disease like measles is a troubling reminder of how important that work is to the public health of the nation,” Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, said last week in a news release.
As of Monday, communities with reported outbreaks include Rockland County, NY, New York City; Michigan; Butte, Los Angeles and Sacramento counties, Calif.; Georgia; Maryland; Pennsylvania and Washington. An outbreak is considered three or more cases.
Most of the people infected with measles were not vaccinated. And the disease can spread more easily in uninfected communities.
The outbreaks are largely attributed to people who brought measles into the United States after traveling to countries with large measles outbreaks such as Israel, the Philippines and Ukraine.
In New York, measles spread throughout Orthodox Jewish communities, which led city officials to order mandatory vaccinations. Religious leaders have also pushed for members of their congregations to get vaccinated.
Symptoms of measles, which appear between seven and 14 days following infection, include high fever, cough, runny nose and rash.
The outbreaks in New York have been ongoing for about eight months, the CDC said, and if they continue through the summer and fall, the U.S. may lose its status as having eliminated measles.
Before widespread adoption of the vaccine, the agency reports that three to four million cases per year, with roughly 48,000 hospitalizations and 400 to 500 deaths.
“We cannot say this enough: Vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak,” Azar said.