If Measles Was Eliminated, Why Do We Still Have Measles?

Measles has been declared eliminated in the United States.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we totatly got rid of measles.

When Was Measles Eliminated in the United States?

That becomes clear when you realize that there were 86 cases of measles in the United States when measles was eliminated.

When was that?

Back in March 2000.

What Does Measles Elimination Really Mean?

So why do we still have measles if it was eliminated already?

It’s because elimination is not eradication.

Measles is much more contagious than smallpox, which is part of the reason we are stuck in the measles elimination phase.
Measles is much more contagious than smallpox, which is part of the reason we are stuck in the elimination phase.

And even then, technically measles itself hasn’t been eliminated in the United States.

The Endemic Spread of Measles

Only the endemic spread of measles has been eliminated.

“Endemic measles transmission is the existence of any continuous indigenous chain of transmission of measles virus that persists for >1 year in any defined geographic area (e.g., the United States).”

Orenstein on Defining and Assessing Measles Elimination Goals

That’s why we still have measles. All of the cases we do now have are either imported or linked to a case that was imported.

Unfortunately, as our measles outbreaks get longer and harder to control, it could be that we soon lose our designation of having eliminated measles and all of the progress that went with it.

More on Measles Elimination in the United States

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