April 8 (UPI) -- Reported cases of measles increased by nearly 100 last week, to 465 across 19 states, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention said on Monday.
A week ago, the CDC reported 387 cases in 15 states. The figure, reported on Monday, is the second-highest reported total since the contagious disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, and is approaching the record high since that year of 667 in 2014.
The increase has been driven in part by groups who, largely for religious or anti-government reasons, choose not to receive anti-measles vaccinations. Most people who acquire the disease have not been vaccinated, the CDC said, although it noted that outbreaks have been linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries dealing with outbreaks, including Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines.
Three or more localized cases qualifies as an outbreak, and thus far include Rockland County, N.Y.; New York City; Washington State; Michigan, New Jersey and Butte and Santa Cruz counties in California. The outbreaks in New York State and New Jersey account for most of the identified cases, and have been traced to unvaccinated members of Orthodox Jewish communities, the CDC said.
Legislation to end religious and non-medical exemptions to vaccinations of school-age children has been proposed in New York State and New Jersey. Only California, Mississippi and West Virginia have similar laws in place.
Measles can spread when it reaches a U.S. community where groups of people are unvaccinated, the CDC said. Common symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash that can spread across the entire body. A small percentage of those infected can develop pneumonia, swelling of the brain or other serious symptoms.