NEW YORK — U.S. measles cases have surged again, and are on pace to set a record for most illnesses in 25 years.
Health officials on Monday said 555 measles cases have been confirmed so far this year, up from 465 as of a week ago.
The 2019 tally is already the most since 2014, when 667 were reported. The most before that was 963 cases in 1994.
Doctors say it continues to spread because people may be ignoring the early symptoms and add that because measles is such a contagious virus, if it gets introduced into a community where people are not vaccinated, it can spread rapidly.
Measles have spread to 22 states this year, including Colorado. Nearly two-thirds of all cases have been in the state of New York, and 85% of the latest week’s cases came from the state. Most of the New York cases have been unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities.
Doctors say that measles can look like a common cold at first, but symptoms can escalate quickly.
Dr. Camille Sabella with Cleveland Clinic Children’s says because we’ve done a good job vaccinating against measles it’s easy for people to think the danger doesn’t exist anymore.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic say every healthy person age one and older should receive the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children get two doses of measles vaccine, which is 97% effective.
Also on Monday, the World Health Organization reported that globally there are four times as many measles cases so far this year as there were at the same time last year.
Over the last year, the largest numbers have been in Ukraine, Madagascar and India, with each reporting more than 60,000 cases.