The number of reported measles cases in the United States has spiked to its second-highest level since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
From Jan. 1 to April 11, 555 individual cases of measles were confirmed in 20 states, according to numbers the CDC released Monday. From April 4 to April 11, 90 new measles cases were reported.
Measles is a highly contagious, potentially deadly disease that causes a high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash, according to the CDC.
Most of the recent cases have been in New York, where an outbreak began in October 2018 among unvaccinated, ultra-Orthodox Jews, CNN reported. Since the outbreak began, 329 cases of measles have been reported in New York, according to The Washington Post. Of those, 273 were reported this year, and 44 were reported in the last week.
The outbreak prompted New York city officials to declare a public health emergency, and order residents in affected neighborhoods to be vaccinated or pay a $1,000 fine.
Before the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine became available in 1963, the CDC said an estimated 48,000 people were hospitalized with the disease each year, and 400 to 500 people died of the disease annually.
The widespread use of the MMR vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases, according to the CDC. The disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. However, measles would no longer be considered eliminated if it’s continuously transmitted for longer than 12 months.
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