"We all knew that what was really driving the return of diseases like measles was the growing vaccine refusal, the anti-vax movement", said UT Austin professor Sahotra Sarkar.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far reported more than 800 cases of measles nationwide this year. On Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation that revokes parents' ability to claim personal or philosophical objections to their children receiving the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine before attending school.
According to the numbers released Monday, cases have been reported in almost half the states, now.
This year's total is inching closer to the number of cases reported, 963, in 1994, which is the highest annually in the last 25 years.
"We saw. a lot of kids with measles and pneumonia, measles and croup, measles and acute encephalitis", says Dr. Joel Forman, who was just starting his pediatric residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City in the summer 1990. "We have to identify anyone who's been in contact with that particular case, find out their vaccine status".
Measles was once common in the US, but gradually became rare after a vaccination campaigns that started in the 1960s.
The New York outbreaks, for example, reportedly began with infected travelers who brought measles back from Europe, and have been concentrated largely among Orthodox Jewish communities. Amongst these, 41 are from New York City alone while 25 cases were confirmed in nearby Rockland County, reports Xinhua.
The disease is highly contagious and can be fatal, killing one or two of every 1,000 children who contract it, according to the CDC. Measles vaccination rates climbed above 90%, where they've remained.