Washington: At least 704 people in the United States have been affected by measles this year, authorities said on Monday.
The Washington Post cited a report in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that more than 500 people affected by the highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease, were not vaccinated.
The virus has been found in 22 states while more than 66 people have been hospitalized across the US.
About 400 of the cases have been found in New York City and its suburbs, mostly in Orthodox Jewish communities.
On April 24, the CDC said the number of cases had surpassed the previous record of 667, set in 2014. This year’s outbreak is the largest in a single year in 25 years since the disease was declared eliminated in the US in 2000.
In 1994, there were 963 cases, The New York Times reported.
Robert Redfield, Director of the CDC, told The Washington Post that around 100,000 children in the US, below the
age of 2, have not been vaccinated, adding that they are vulnerable in this outbreak.
“Some infants are not immunized because their parents avoid vaccination. Others cannot be protected either because they are allergic to components of the vaccine or are, for example, taking cancer or organ-transplant medications that suppress their immune systems,” Redfield was quoted as saying.
New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared a state of emergency and warned residents of four Brooklyn ZIP codes of fines worth USD 1,000 if they refuse to get vaccinated.
There have been no confirmed measles deaths in the country, but officials have said it is just a matter of time.
According to the World Health Organisation, pneumonia and encephalitis are the most common severe complications, and epidemics among malnourished children who cannot get modern hospital care have mortality rates of 10 percent or more.
Measles is considered to be one of the most contagious diseases. Virus-laced droplets can hover in still indoor air for up to two hours after someone infected has coughed or sneezed. Up to 90 percent of people who are exposed will catch the virus if they are not immunized.