Many news organizations ran with a story about a multi-state measles outbreak recently.
They got something wrong though.
There is no ongoing, single, multi-state outbreak of measles this year.
Fake News About Measles Outbreaks?
Is it understandable that some media outlets would have been confused by recent CDC reports?
The CDC Measles Cases and Outbreaks page hadn’t been updated since late-July and is still reporting case numbers that are “current as of July 14, 2018,” so there really was no recent CDC report to generate all of this extra attention.
“From January 1 to July 14, 2018, 107 people from 21 states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington) and the District of Colombia were reported to have measles.”
CDC on Measles Cases and Outbreaks
Although it has been changed to say “107 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 21 states,” there was nothing to indicate it was a single outbreak that the CDC was monitoring as many sites reported:
- People – 107 People Have Contracted Measles as Outbreak Spreads to 21 States and D.C.
- Fortune – CDC Is Monitoring a Measles Outbreak in 21 States
- USA Today – Measles outbreak hits 21 states, District of Columbia, and is on track to surpass last year
- NBC2 – Measles outbreak spreads to 21 states, infecting more than 100 people
Unfortunately, many of these reports are still online.
How did it happen?
It’s likely because you have reports from organizations and websites that seem to want to push out content, but don’t have much of a budget to pay health or medical writers to make sure it is accurate.
2018 Measles Cases and Outbreaks
It’s also unfortunate that some of these sites, in trying to correct the idea of a single, nation-wide outbreak, are now trying to minimize this year’s measles outbreaks.
No, there isn’t one large outbreak that is spreading across the United States, but there are a lot of smaller outbreaks, some of which are still ongoing.
And these outbreaks are not something that should still be expected, as we have had a safe and effective measles vaccine for over 50 years and measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000!
There is also something very much different about 2018, that not surprisingly, no one is reporting about.
With over 107 cases, things seem very similar to last year right, when we had about 118 cases?
The thing is, in 2017, there was one large outbreak, in Minnesota, with 79 people.
In 2015, at least 139 of 189 cases were from just three large outbreaks, in California (Disneyland), Illinois, and South Dakota.
See what’s different?
This year seems to have more individual cases in more states, each with the potential to grow into one of those big outbreaks.
Putting us at risk even though measles is a life-threatening infection, a safe and effective vaccine has been available for 50 years, and every anti-vaccine myth that scares folks has been refuted a thousand times.
That’s the story.
Who’s telling it?
More on Reporting on Measles Outbreaks
- CDC – Measles Cases and Outbreaks
- CDC: There is NO current multi-state measles outbreak in US
- CDC – Frequently Asked Questions about Measles in the U.S.
- CDC – Photos of Measles and People with Measles
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights BULLETIN : HIPAA Privacy in Emergency Situations
- Each case of measles costs $33,000 – there were over 600 cases in 2014
- Recouping costs of vaccine preventable disease outbreaks
- Measles Outbreak in Dollars and Cents: It Costs Taxpayers Bigtime
- CDC – Measles Outbreak — Minnesota April–May 2017
- CDC – Make Sure You’re Protected against Measles before International Travel
- Anti-Vaccine Movement Causes Worst Measles Epidemic In 20 Years
- Over Half Of Measles Cases In U.S. Outbreaks Are Often Intentionally Unvaccinated
- Anti-vax communities get measles : Outbreaks linked to denial of vaccines