The number of states with measles cases continue to expand during this historic outbreak. The cases climbed past 760 this week.

The number of confirmed U.S. measles cases this year has climbed to 764, more than double the number a year ago and the highest total in 25 years, federal health officials announced Monday.

Sixty additional cases were reported last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Most of those were in New York City and its suburbs.

Pennsylvania became the 23rd state where measles cases have been confirmed.

Ogbonnaya Omenka, an associate professor and public health specialist at Butler University, found some encouraging news in the report. He noted that the number of cases rose about the same in the past two weeks, less than previous gains. But authorities dare not get complacent, he said.

“This outbreak is an indication that the traditional methods of addressing measles outbreaks in the United States may not suffice any longer,” Omenka told USA TODAY. “Public health authorities need to quickly recognize this and adapt accordingly.”

Many health authorities have thought about eliminating vaccine exemptions on religious grounds. The legislature in Oregon, the epicenter of one of the larger outbreaks, has a bill that will eliminate religious exemptions:

Currently, parents in Oregon and most other states can cite religious or philosophical reasons if they don’t want to vaccinate their kids. According to the CDC, Oregon kindergartners claim vaccine exemptions at the highest rate in the nation.

But a bill in the state Legislature would do away with those nonmedical exemptions. Parents who didn’t secure a doctor’s permission would face a choice between vaccination or not sending their kids to school.

If passed, Oregon would become the fourth state to eliminate nonmedical exemptions. Opponents are keen on preventing that. In the two months since the bill was filed, it has spurred thousands of letters and phone calls, and hours of passionate testimony.

“This issue has been one of the most emotional issues that I’ve seen in all my years on the Legislature,” said state Sen. Lee Beyer, who has served as a lawmaker for nearly two decades.

Similar debates are being held all over the country.

Legal Insurrection readers with long memories may recall our report on a California measles outbreak that started with exposures at the iconic Disneyland Park in 2015. After that crisis, the state legislators limited vaccination exemptions to those related to medical issues.

How did that work out?

Since the law took effect, California’s measles vaccination rate has begun to climb.

…It seems that some parents have found doctors who will write them suspect medical exemptions from vaccines. Physicians have been accused of writing exemptions because a child has asthma or psoriasis. Though vaccination rates have gone up, so have medical exemption rates.

California legislators are weighing a bill that would force the state to track each medical exemption, in an attempt to tamp down on fraudulent ones.

The other two states with the limited exemptions, Mississippi and West Virginia, have reported no measles cases so far.

Los Angeles has experienced an outbreak with six confirmed cases, including one that hit some major LA hot-spots during the infectious stage of the disease.

The measles outbreak in Los Angeles has spread to two more people including one person who recently spent time at crowded LA hotspots including The Grove, the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, Whole Foods and shops along Melrose and Fairfax.

The other new case stems from yet another international traveler who passed through Los Angeles International Airport.

Meanwhile, I am on my way to get a titre test, as I am in the age bracket in which a second vaccination may be needed.


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