The number of measles cases since the beginning of the year in the United States has passed the 1000 mark, US health authorities announced Wednesday.
“The 1000th case of a preventable disease like measles is a worrisome reminder of the importance” of vaccination, said US Health Minister Alex Azar.
“We can not repeat it enough: vaccines are a safe and very effective way to prevent this disease and end the current epidemic,” he added.
The announcement of the 1000th case comes just days after health authorities warned of the risk of the United States losing its status as a country that has eliminated measles.
The disease was declared “eliminated” in 2000 in the country, a goal that had been set in 1966 with the start of vaccination.
This term corresponds to the absence of continuous transmission for 12 months in a particular geographical area.
At present, it is the persistent epidemic of the New York region that alarms the authorities. It officially began in New York on September 30, 2018, and in neighboring Rockland County on October 1.
If it continues for another four months, according to this convention, the United States will no longer be able to say that it has “eliminated” measles.
Despite the mandatory vaccination decreed by the mayor of New York in early April in the neighborhoods of the Jewish community most affected, the city has experienced 173 cases in April and 60 in May.
In practice, the United States never went to zero cases. Since 2000, their numbers have ranged from a few dozen to a few hundred per year, with a peak of 667 in 2014, an epidemic that was then concentrated for more than half in Ohio’s Amish communities.
Resurgence of outbreaks is mainly due to unvaccinated or under-vaccinated travelers who are contaminated abroad and returning to the United States. This has been the case since last year in various parts of the country, with imported strains including the Philippines, Israel and Ukraine.