Two new cases of measles reported in the country last week turned out not to be measles. This shows that health authorities may yet get control of the worst outbreak of the highly contagious disease in the US since 1992. However, if more cases pop up, America may lose its “measles-free” status.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also determined that two previously reported cases of the disease were not in fact measles, keeping the total number of cases for the year at 1,241 as of Sept. 12.

The outbreak, which began in New York on Oct. 1, has largely been linked to parents who declined to vaccinate their children.

The number of extended outbreaks of the measles due to the lack of vaccinations means that the US is in danger of losing its World Health Organization (WHO) “measles elimination” designation.

“As a global leader in public health, it is mortifying that (the U.S.) may lose its measles elimination status,” said Dr. Paul Spiegel, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health. “The measles outbreaks should not have occurred as vaccination against measles is very effective.”

The U.S. isn’t alone. Four countries — Albania, Greece, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom — recently lost their measles elimination status, which the World Health Organization defines as the absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months.

The U.S. would immediately lose its elimination status if there is any case connected to the current outbreak on or after Oct. 2, according to CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. If there’s a case that was not transmitted through the current outbreak, however, then the U.S. would not lose elimination status.

Infectious disease specialists around the country are troubled by this backward direction of the nation’s public health status.

It also sends the wrong message to the rest of the world, said Dr. Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University. “We’ll find out in early October whether we did lose it but if we did then we have to go another whole year without measles or ongoing transmission. And to the world, it may say, ‘See this may be too difficult to do.’

“And I think it’s important because I believe eventually measles should be eradicated.”

Meanwhile, in California, the state’s health chief resigns after calling anti-vaccine people ‘flat-earthers.’

Jennifer Kent, director of the California Department of Health Care Services, will step down at the end of September after making negative comments about people who oppose vaccination, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The agency did not provide details on the reason for Ms. Kent’s resignation, which was announced Sept. 10. However, the report notes she recently posted on Facebook and called anti-vaccine protestors at the state capitol “flat-earthers.” The post included the hashtags “#believeinscience” and “#vaccinateyourgoddamnkids,” according to the report.

Legal Insurrection readers may recall that one of the anti-vaccine demonstrators recently tossed a menstrual cup filled with blood into the state senate chambers. The woman has been released on bond.

The woman was among several protesters watching the waning hours of the legislative session for year from the upstairs balcony in the Senate at 5:14 p.m., when she hurled what the California Highway Patrol called “a feminine hygiene device containing what appeared to be blood” at several lawmakers. “That’s for the dead babies,” she yelled.

Rebecca Lee Dalelio, 43, was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, misdemeanor battery and four other counts related to disrupting official state business. She posted $10,000 bond and was released from the Sacramento County Main Jail on Saturday morning, according to sheriff’s department records.

It won’t be too much longer before everyone in this state, not just Scott Presler’s clean-up volunteers, will need a hazmat suit.

 
 
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