Measles uptick may be 'new normal,' says CDC leader

The U.S. will more regularly see measles outbreaks in pockets of unvaccinated individuals, health experts told STAT.

Four things to know:

1. As of March 21, the CDC has confirmed 314 measles cases this year, which surpasses the annual total for both 2016 and 2017.

 2. Nancy Messonnier, MD, director the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the recent uptick in measles cases represents a "new normal" for the U.S.

3. Eradicating measles is a possible feat — two doses of the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine is 97 percent effective at preventing measles. However, gaps in vaccination coverage have undone progress to eliminate measles and caused massive outbreaks worldwide.

4. William Moss, MD, a professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, sits on a World Health Organization committee focused on measles eradication. The committee is set to share a discussion paper on the topic at WHO's 2020 World Health Assembly.

"To be honest, I don't see a goal being set in the next five years [to eradicate measles]," Dr. Moss told STAT. "What I see actually happening is some more interim milestones being set. And then at some future date, the issue being raised again. Maybe that's 2025. I'm not sure."

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