With nearly 1,000 measles cases in the U.S., the measles cases have hit a 25-year high, according to new CDC numbers
. Already 2019 is the highest year for measles since 2000 when the disease was eradicated domestically. All new cases since the eradication declaration have come from foreign travelers.
2014 was a particularly bad year for measles in the U.S. when the anti-vaccine movement combined with air travel to create a surge in measles cases domestically. An Amish missionary who visited the Philippines
caused nearly half of the registered cases in that year to spread throughout the mostly unvaccinated community. Another significant outbreak at Disneyland in California that same year pushed the number of cases up even higher. This year many measles outbreaks across the country are occurring in unvaccinated communities.
Globally, measles declined between 2000 and 2016. The UN announced the War on Measles in 2001, with huge support from the U.S. federal government, the American Red Cross, and donors, like Ted Turner and Bill and Melinda Gates. The funding went mostly towards providing the proper training, resources, and logistic planning needed to administer the two-part vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).
The WHO determined that the biggest factor for the increase in measles cases
worldwide was gaps in vaccination coverage mainly caused by poverty. The medical infrastructure in many countries is not built up enough to vaccinate children year after year to prevent the virus. Anti-vaccine activists, false rumors, and serious missteps by vaccine companies, unrelated to the MMR vaccine, has created an atmosphere of distrust around the vaccine in the U.S.
and globally. Air travel
then moves the highly contagious virus across the world.