The United States has been officially measles-free for nearly 20 years, but the recent outbreaks might revoke that title. In September of 2018, outbreaks began to appear in New York State and have since spread to 29 other states. There’s growing concern that the World Health Organization (WHO) will soon revoke the country’s measles elimination status, as it revoked the U.K.’s earlier this month.
The measles has struck over 1,200 people just this year, with 12 new cases developing this week. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are fearful that these numbers will spike even more drastically as children head back to school next week.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that there’s a “reasonable” chance the U.S.’s status will be revoked by October, CNN reports. She continued that it is “incredibly frustrating and upsetting to the public health community that we may lose measles elimination status because we do have a safe and effective vaccine.”
Though these vaccines save at least 2 million lives every year, anti-vaccine content is running rampant on social media, causing many parents to opt-out of vaccinating their children. “Misinformation about vaccines is as contagious and dangerous as the diseases it helps to spread,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that anti-vax ideas have spread to “critical vaccination campaigns like those for polio in Pakistan or yellow fever in South America.”
The Center for Disease Control plans to release an official statement about the country’s measles elimination status next week.