(CDC) — A director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s a ‘reasonable chance’ the US will lose measles-elimination status in October because of ongoing outbreaks in New York.
“The incidence of diseases such as measles mumps and rubella are at an all-time low,” then-President Bill Clinton said in 2000.
So low that in the year 2000 the World Health Organization declared that measles was eliminated in the United States.
Now, CNN is the first to report that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s a “reasonable chance” that the US will lose its measles elimination status as early as October 1.
“Losing the elimination status of measles is an embarrassment,” Dr. William Schaffner from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center said. “Public health will be embarrassed. It’s like having a black eye.”
So why did measles return? In part, because some ultra-orthodox Jews in New York refuse to vaccinate their children. Outbreaks in this community have been going on for nearly a year now.
“If that continues to the one-year cutoff point, bang! They take back the elimination card,” Schaffner said.
And that can cause trouble worldwide.
“I’m concerned it will reduce the motivation of other ministers of health around the world in trying to eliminate measles in their counties because they’ll say ‘gee if the US couldn’t maintain it why should we work so hard on this?'” Schaffner said.
And that could lead to more deaths. Already tens of thousands of people, mostly young children, die of measles each year globally.
Doctors hope that once the current outbreak ends the CDC and others will do a better job of combatting anti-vaccine propaganda on social media, lies that encouraged parents to ignore science, and could cost the United States a great public health achievement.