Study lists 4 counties in Florida among most vulnerable for measles outbreak

Maricruz Casares
May 11, 2019

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and UT Austin ranked Travis County 22nd on the list, citing its high rates of nonmedical childhood vaccination exemptions and its high volume of global travel.

This year, the US has reported 704 confirmed measles cases in 22 states, compared to 372 cases in 2018, 120 cases in 2017 and 86 cases in 2016.

The researchers who predicted the Zika outbreak are now saying Cook County could be home to the next big measles outbreak.

The number of confirmed measles cases in the US has almost doubled since a year ago, with more than 700 cases since January 2019, and researchers warned the epidemic could worsen.

The analysis appears in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The study also included an interactive map, which warns that Broward County has the seventh-highest measles risk in the country. Their analysis is based on worldwide air travel volume, non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations, population data, and reported measles outbreak information. Although measles was officially eliminated from the 2000, the ongoing outbreak shows that the nation remains at risk.

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"Anti-vaxxers are denying the best and very successful medical science we have and choosing instead to rely on fraudulent claims, such as a purported link to autism, that have been uniformly debunked by evidence and analysis over the last two decades", wrote coauthor Sahotra Sarkar, professor of philosophy and integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin.

The analysis correctly identified regions in Washington, Oregon, and NY that have already seen major measles outbreaks this year.

Additionally, the analysis specified the following countries that contribute most to measles risk in the US: India, China, Mexico, Japan, Ukraine, Philippines, and Thailand. They added that viruses only need a small, self-contained pocket of people to thrive, and cited Brooklyn's tiny, mostly unvaccinated Orthodox Jewish population as an example.

Other authors on this study include Aleksa Zlojutro of the University of New South Wales Sydney and Kamran Khan of St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto.

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