Outbreaks of Measles and Other Vaccine Preventable Disease

Measles, whooping cough, polio, mumps and rubella are all diseases that can be easily prevented with vaccinations. And in fact, many of them have been considered wiped out in richer countries. For example, in the US, measles was declared "eliminated" back in 2000. In fact, according to the CDC"measles cases have dropped by more than 99 percent compared to the pre-vaccine era". But in recent years, the disease has made a comeback. In 2014, the CDC reported 644 cases across the 27 States. Three times the yearly amount ever reported since 2000.

The Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations tracks worldwide outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases since 2008. It collects reports by news media, governments, and the global health community. We imported their data in Silk and restructured it a bit, so that you can explore trends on the diffusion of such outbreaks.

Caveat: The data tracks only public mentions of outbreaks. It's therefore completely possible that outbreaks in smaller and isolated communities are missing or underreported. It's also possible that, as more cases happen, media outlets become more inclined in reporting about them, thus skewing the data.

Between January and March 2015, California was the theater of a measles outbreak with at least 129 cases, originating from Disneyland. It classified as epidemic. Six month later, Illinois was struck by another epidemic outbreak, this time of mumps. Luckily, both of these cases didn't lead to any fatalities. Yet, this year, at least 4 people have died because of vaccine-preventable diseases in the US: two in California and one in Oregon for whooping couch, and one in Washington because of measles.

Outbreaks of Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Page Title
Cases
Impact Scale
Date
Fatalities
Disease
Cases
Lat,Long
Measles Outbreak in United States (Arizona), January 20157Epidemic1/2015-2/20150Measles735.03130,-110.47163
Measles Outbreak in United States (California), January 2015 (1)3Epidemic1/2015-3/20150Measles334.95921,-116.41939
Measles Outbreak in United States (California), January 2015 (2)129Epidemic1/2105-3/20150Measles12933.81049,-117.91900
Measles Outbreak in United States (Colorado), January 20151Epidemic01/01/20150Measles139.64026,-106.37420
Measles Outbreak in United States (Nebraska), January 2015 (2)1Epidemic01/01/20150Measles141.72434,-99.67144
Measles Outbreak in United States (Nevada), January 2015 (2)1Epidemic1/2015-3/20150Measles138.77692, -114.85384
Measles Outbreak in United States (Oregon), January 20151Epidemic1/2015-2/20150Measles144.17009,-120.02849
Measles Outbreak in United States (South Dakota), January 2015 (2)13Epidemic01/01/20150Measles1343.70943,-98.02980
Measles Outbreak in United States (Utah), January 2015 (2)3Epidemic1/2015-2/20150Measles339.66547,-110.08513
Measles Outbreak in United States, January 20152Epidemic1/2015-2/20150Measles247.59180,-122.25911
Mumps Outbreak in United States (Idaho), February 201521Epidemic01/02/20150Mumps2143.61871,-116.21461
Mumps Outbreak in United States (Illinois), June 2015100Epidemic01/06/20150Mumps10040.11059,-88.20727
Whooping Cough Outbreak in United States (Indiana), January 20153Epidemic01/01/20150Whooping Cough338.60561,-86.10109
Whooping Cough Outbreak in United States (Kansas), July 201541Epidemic01/07/20150Whooping Cough4137.95696,-98.04652


This year's Washington measles death is actually the first one caused by this disease since 2008, as reported by the Council of Foreign Relations. Whooping couch is actually the cause of almost all other vaccine-preventable fatalities reported. This disease can be avoided with DTaP shots, which are very safe and usually has no side effects.

Outbreaks with Fatalities


Measles is "the most deadly of all childhood rash/fever illnesses". It also spreads quite easily, so vaccination is essential to maintain the herd immunity threshold that maintains the whole community immune. This year, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) reported measles outbreaks in almost every continent. The outbreak with the biggest number of reported cases was in China (79,000 cases). Yet the US also distinguishes itself for the concentration of CFR reported outbreaks: at least one case was reported in 23 US States. 

Outbreaks of Vaccine Preventable Diseases


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