HealthDay News — Five months into 2019, the number of measles cases in the United States has now reached 971, the largest number since 1992 when 963 total cases were reported for the year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced.

The United States is now at risk of losing its measles elimination status, which the CDC says would “erase the hard work done by all levels of public health.” New York City and Rockland County, New York, have been in the midst of outbreaks for close to eight months. The CDC says if these outbreaks continue into the summer, the United States could lose the measles elimination status that was accomplished in 2000.

Before the measles vaccine was widely used, the number of measles cases in the United States was around 3 to 4 million each year, and an estimated 400 to 500 people died from the measles, while 48,000 were hospitalized. The CDC cites widespread use of the measles vaccine and a strong public health infrastructure to detect and contain measles as the two main reasons for why the disease was eliminated in the United States. The CDC urges clinicians and policymakers to ensure that the information patients receive to make health decisions is accurate and credible.

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“Measles is preventable and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated do get vaccinated,” CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., said in a statement. “CDC will continue working with public health responders across our nation to bring this outbreak to an end.”

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