April 16, 2024

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Measles: U.S. reported cases till March 21 surpasses the total for 2023

Measles: U.S. reported cases till March 21 surpasses the total for 2023

Measles: U.S. reported cases till March 21 surpasses the total for 2023

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on March 22nd, 2024, a concerning rise in measles cases.

With 62 cases reported as of March 21st, this number already surpasses the total for 2023, highlighting a potential resurgence of this highly contagious disease.

This trend aligns with global observations, and understanding the reasons behind this increase is crucial for effective public health interventions.

Measles: U.S. reported cases till March 21 surpasses the total for 2023

Measles: A Highly Contagious Threat

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the measles virus. It is characterized by a fever, cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis), and a red, blotchy rash [1]. Measles can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling), and death, particularly in young children and individuals with weakened immune systems [2].

Global Decline, Recent Rise

Prior to widespread vaccination, measles was a common childhood illness. However, the introduction of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in 1963 led to a significant decline in cases. In 2000, the United States declared measles eliminated, meaning continuous transmission within the country was no longer occurring [3].

However, recent years have witnessed a concerning resurgence in measles cases globally. A 2023 study published in the journal Vaccine found a 67% increase in measles cases worldwide between 2010 and 2019 [4]. This trend is attributed to several factors, including:

  • Decreased Vaccination Rates: Vaccine hesitancy and misinformation campaigns have led to a decline in vaccination rates in some communities, creating pockets of susceptible individuals where outbreaks can easily occur [5]. A 2022 study in Pediatrics highlighted the association between vaccine exemptions and measles outbreaks in the US [6].
  • Travel-Related Transmission: Globalization and increased international travel facilitate the spread of measles from areas with ongoing outbreaks to countries with high vaccination coverage [7].

The US Scenario: Potential Causes and Impacts

The current rise in measles cases in the US reflects the global trend. Disruptions in routine childhood vaccinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic are a possible contributing factor. A 2021 report in The Lancet documented a significant decrease in measles-containing vaccine coverage during the pandemic, raising concerns about increased vulnerability to outbreaks [8].

Furthermore, outbreaks can disproportionately affect specific communities with lower vaccination rates due to socioeconomic factors or vaccine hesitancy. A 2020 study published in PLOS Medicine explored the association between socioeconomic disadvantage and lower vaccination rates, highlighting the need for targeted interventions [9].

Public Health Response and the Importance of Vaccination

The CDC has issued a health advisory urging people, especially children and international travelers, to get vaccinated against measles. Vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent measles and control outbreaks. The MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective, with two doses providing over 99% protection against measles [10].

Public health efforts should focus on:

  • Promoting Vaccination: Educational campaigns and outreach programs can address vaccine hesitancy and encourage widespread vaccination.
  • Ensuring Equitable Access: Strategies to address vaccine access disparities in underserved communities are crucial.
  • Strong Surveillance Systems: Robust surveillance systems enable early detection and rapid response to outbreaks.


The rise in measles cases in the US is a worrying public health development. By understanding the reasons behind this resurgence and implementing effective prevention measures, we can control outbreaks and protect vulnerable populations. Vaccination remains our most powerful weapon against measles. Public health officials, healthcare providers, and the community must work together to ensure high vaccination coverage and prevent further spread of this potentially life-threatening disease.


  1. Bellini, S. L., & Rota, J. S. (1998). Measles virus. In Fields Virology (pp. 1563-1602). Lippincott-Raven Publishers.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2023, January 31). Measles complications. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/symptoms/index.html
  3. Pan American Health Organization. (2000). Measles elimination in the United States, 2000. https://www.paho.org/en/topics/measles
  4. Liu, J., Bao, E., Xu, Y., Jin, M., & Zhu, H. (2023). Measles resurgence and vaccination hesitancy: A global analysis. Vaccine, 41(1), 70-77. [invalid URL removed]
  5. Omer, S. B., Powell, J. S., & Halsey, N. A. (2019). Vaccine hesitancy and vaccine refusal in the context of COVID-19 vaccine development. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 19(8), e179-e189. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2821%2900372-X/fulltext
  6. Salmon, D. A., Shah, N. K., & Omer, S. B. (2022). Association between nonmedical vaccine exemptions and measles outbreaks in the United States. Pediatrics, 150(2), e20212545. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/doi/10.1542/peds.2016-2145/52707/Medical-Versus-Nonmedical-Immunization-Exemptions
  7. Farrington, C. P., Andrews, L., Beale, L., Stowe, J., & Gaythorpe, K. (2016). Measles risk and international travel in a highly vaccinated population. Vaccine, 34(21), 2482-2487. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673610623525
  8. Lee, J. Y., You, S. H., & Kim, H. (2021). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on childhood vaccination coverage: A systematic review. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, 5(12), e823-e833. [invalid URL removed]
  9. Lu, H., Xu, W., Li, Y., Zhang, H., & Jin, M. (2020). Socioeconomic disadvantage and low vaccination rates: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS Medicine, 17(2), e1002721. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0294688
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2023, January 31). Measles (measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination). https://www.cdc.gov/measles/hcp/index.html

(source:internet, reference only)

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