It’s like Plymouth Rock all over again. Or as our Entertainment staff writer Tonja Renée Stidhum so eloquently put it, “What is this Oregon Trail reboot 2520s tryna produce in real life?”
While experts blame anti-vaxxers as the primary cause of the growing crisis, some ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, N.Y., have become ground zero for a huge measles outbreak in New York, and the U.S. now has the second-highest level of measles recorded in 25 years.
CNN reports that while The Purge is a lackluster film franchise, The Measles is a real-life fucking pandemic.
The number of measles cases in the United States made its biggest jump of the year, with 90 new cases reported in just one week, according to numbers released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With 555 total cases, 2019 now has the second-highest number of measles cases in the United States in 25 years — and the year isn’t even half over.
Read that last sentence again: And the year isn’t even half over.
And just in case you thought I was picking on Jenny McCarthy and her ilk, it’s actually experts like Dr. William Schaffner—medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and an adviser to the CDC on vaccines—who are pointing their fingers at the anti-vax movement as the culprit.
“We’d previously eliminated this disease not just in the U.S. but in the entire Western Hemisphere,” he said. “And it appears that now we’ve profoundly and sadly turned back the clock.”
Twenty states have reported measles outbreaks so far this year: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. But most of these cases have occurred in New York—the site of an outbreak among ultra-Orthodox Jews that began in the fall and has been nearly impossible to control.
In fact, it’s so bad that health officials announced last week that in the New York City neighborhoods afflicted by the outbreak, anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated against measles or can’t provide evidence of immunity is subject to a $1,000 fine.
Health officials in Rockland County event went as far as trying to ban unvaccinated children from public places, but a judge prohibited the county from doing so.
“I’m obviously very concerned about the size and also acceleration of the current outbreak,” Dr. Nancy Messonier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNN. “This is not going to stop on its own [...] Most measles outbreaks in the U.S. stop sooner than this.”
But much like Donald Trump, this isn’t a problem secluded to the United States. The rest of the world is feeling the wrath of Koplik’s spots and skin rashes too.
Measles isn’t just rising in the United States. The World Health Organization reported Monday there were more than 110,000 measles cases worldwide in the first three months of 2019 — an increase of nearly 300% from the same period last year.
The data is provisional, and the actual number of measles cases is likely higher, as WHO estimates that less than 1 in 10 cases globally are reported to the agency.
Ukraine had the highest number of cases in the past 12 months, with more than 72,000 cases, followed by Madagascar and India with more than 69,000 and 60,000 cases respectively. WHO warned that there are delays in reporting and this data may be incomplete.
So yeah. Do us all a favor and please get your kids vaccinated because prayers alone aren’t getting the job done.
Clarification Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 8:45 a.m. ET: Both the headline and this story have been updated to clarify that the measles outbreak in Brooklyn, N.Y., is being attributed to ultra-orthodox Jewish communities and not hipsters or anti-vaxxers.