With 20 new cases confirmed in the last week, the measles outbreak continues to spread in the United States. Now, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are saying the U.S. is experiencing two measles outbreaks plus several additional cases not linked to the outbreaks.
On Feb. 17, the CDC reported that there have been 141 cases of measles confirmed in the U.S. since Jan. 1. Those cases are spread across Washington, D.C., and 17 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.
In 2014, the U.S. had 644 confirmed measles cases, the highest number of cases in more than two decades. This year, the U.S. is on pace to smash that figure.
Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus long before symptoms appear. According to the CDC, one infected person can spread the virus to as many as 18 other people. Those infected by measles often exhibit flu-like symptoms.
Measles is more contagious than smallpox, influenza and polio, and, like Ebola, it has a 21-day incubation period.
Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist for California, said the U.S. can “expect to see many cases of this vaccine-preventable disease unless people take precautionary measures.”
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To learn more about measles, visit the CDC’s measles page.