New analysis predicts top 25 US counties at risk for measles outbreaks

The Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport is shown in this undated

The Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport is shown in this undated

A new analysis identifies the 25 United States counties most likely to experience measles outbreaks in 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.

"There has been a resurgence of measles cases, among other vaccine preventable diseases, in the USA and other countries in recent years". "Measles, in particular, poses a serious public health threat due to the highly contagious nature of the disease". At the end of April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that more than 700 people have caught the virus this year, the highest number of cases in 25 years.

The analysis combined global air travel volume, non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations, population data, and reported measles outbreak information. Although measles was officially eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, the ongoing outbreak shows that the nation remains at risk.

Along with Honolulu and and Salt Lake counties, Travis is one of the most at-risk areas near an worldwide airport that has yet to report a measles case. The report blames the increasingly visible anti-vaccine movement for the uptick in measles cases nationally, although it doesn't go into detail on the level of vaccination in IL.

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

"For measles, most experts believe that there will be one to two deaths per 1,000 cases, most likely infants", said the study's lead author, Sahotra Sarkar, a philosophy and integrative biology professor at UT Austin. Additionally, the analysis specified the following countries that contribute most to measles risk in the U.S.: India, China, Mexico, Japan, Ukraine, Philippines, and Thailand.

"Our prediction is aligned with multiple counties that have experienced measles outbreaks this year".

The analysis appears in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Additional authors are from the University of New South Wales Sydney and St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto.

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