With 84 cases already identified in the first month of the year, the number of measles cases across the country has almost outstripped what has become the usual number of cases in a year, according to reports.
While last year exploded with 644 reported cases, since the late 90s, only about an average of 100 cases a year have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some years were a bit more, some a bit less, but last year aside, the number rarely exceeded 200.
With over 80 cases already identified, we have already come close to the yearly average in just the first month of the year.
As 2014 came to a close, in mid-December, health authorities in six western states began to track an outbreak of measles that was quickly traced to several Disney theme parks. Over 80 cases now have been tracked to the outbreak.
Now, a month after the outbreak began, one federal health official reported that patient zero for the outbreak likely came from outside the country–either an immigrant, a visitor, or an American who went overseas and brought the disease back with him.
The official noted that many countries still suffer widespread outbreaks of measles. France, for instance, had 15,000 cases in 2011. The disease was once thought eradicated in the US, but outbreaks of the disease have grown since 2008.
The disease has been found outside western states also. By the end of January, a Chicago suburb also reported its first case of the disease.
Measles is an airborne respiratory virus that is highly contagious. It is spread by coughing, sneezing, and contact with infected people. It is incurable once contracted and can sometimes be fatal if left untreated. Sufferers are advised to stay hydrated and take rest.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.