Number of measles cases in US reaches highest mark in 25 years

Number of measles cases in US reaches highest mark in 25 years

The number of measles cases in the United States has climbed to the highest level in 25 years.

On Wednesday afternoon, the New York Health Department said there have been 61 new cases of measles since last week, pushing the total number of cases this year, nationwide, past the 667 cases reported for all of 2014.

>> Federal judge blocks unvaccinated students from returning to school amid measles outbreak

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Roughly three-quarters of the cases have been in New York state, coming from their ultra-orthodox community. In total, 22 states in total have reported at least one case of the disease in 2017.

This is now the worst year for measles since 1994. That's alarming health experts who say people who choose not to vaccinate their children are putting everyone at risk.

Health officials say measles and other vaccine-preventable-diseases once considered consigned to the past could come back – if people don’t vaccinate.

"This is due to the failure of immunization," said Dr. Ari Cohen, the Chief of Pediatric Medicine at Mass. General Hospital for Children.

Dr. Cohen says the science behind vaccines is sound.

"The science tells us vaccines are safe, they're effective and they're reliable," he said. "They save lives."

Experts blame misinformation about the vaccine on so-called anti-vaxxers who choose not to immunize.

Around Boston parents agree and think anti-vaxxers are being reckless.

"We believe in science in our house and we don’t really agree with people who choose not to vaccinate," said Rashmi Tiwari of Jamaica Plain.

Dr. Larry Madoff from the Department of Public Health says people need to take the measles seriously.

"Measles is so contagious," he said. "It's probably the most contagious disease that we know of."

In Massachusetts, there has been one confirmed case and a suspected case involving a child from Wilbraham.

The disease was declared "eradicated" in the U.S. in 2000.

"It's completely irresponsible, said Jamaica Plain resident Dan Bergstresser of people not vaccinating their children. "It's a real tragedy. It's disappointing to see. I think people should vaccinate their kids."

Massachusetts health officials follow CDC guidelines which recommend the MMR: Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine for children who are one year and older.