One-dose bottles of measles. File photo/AFP
More than 1,200 people have been sickened with measles this year, the highest number since 1992, US health authorities said Friday, though the infectious childhood disease officially remains "eliminated" after the worst-hit region contained its outbreak.
New York health officials Thursday declared the end of the state's nearly year-long epidemic, which accounted for 75 percent of cases nationwide
Before the declaration, it had appeared that the US might lose its measles elimination status, which it has had since 2000.
The status is lost if a chain of transmission in a given outbreak is sustained for more than 12 months.
"We are very pleased that the measles outbreak has ended in New York and that measles is still considered eliminated in the United States," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
"But this past year's outbreak was an alarming reminder about the dangers of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation," he added.
"That is why the Trump administration will continue making it a priority to work with communities and promote vaccination as one of the easiest things you can do to keep you and your family healthy and safe."
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said there had been 1,249 cases of measles between January 1 and October 4, 2019.
The US is far from alone in experiencing a surge: data from the World Health Organization for the first six months of 2019 shows the highest number of measles cases reported since 2006.
In the last year alone, Britain, Greece, Venezuela and Brazil lost their measles elimination status.
The rise comes as a growing anti-vaccine movement gains steam around the world, driven by fraudulent claims linking the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella to a risk of autism in children.
Measles is caused by a virus and can lead to serious complications including pneumonia and inflammation of the brain that can do permanent damage and be deadly, especially in small children.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that measles cases are skyrocketing in Europe and the disease is surging in four countries previously considered to have eliminated
The South Pacific island nation of Samoa has lifted a six week-state of emergency after the infection rate from a measles outbreak that has swept the country started to come under control.
Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the issue is hugely worrisome.
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