Map Shows the 9 States Where Measles Outbreaks Are Most Prevalent

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Feb 16, 2024

In 2000, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the measles disease completely eliminated. However, nine states have already reported new cases this year. 

Health officials are working diligently to ensure the disease doesn’t spread further. But if they cannot curtail this outbreak, measles may become a real problem in 2024. 

What Are Measles?

Measles, also called rubella, is a highly contagious viral infection. It spreads easily from one person to another through the air, and once contracted, the symptoms can vary from a fever or aggressive cough to death. 

Sick woman wrapped in a blanket on the couch, taking her own temperature

Source: Freepik

While anyone can catch measles, it’s most common in children and infants. But fortunately, since the measles vaccine was released in the late 1960s, fewer and fewer people and kids around the world have been affected by the disease.

Is the Measles Vaccine 100% Effective?

According to the CDC, over 90% of children today have been vaccinated for measles. However, it is important to note that the vaccine is not 100% effective. 

In this photo illustration, a one-dose bottle of measles, mumps, and rubella virus vaccine, made by MERCK, is held up at the Salt Lake County Health Department

Source: George Frey/Getty Images

The CDC notes that 3 out of 100 people who receive the vaccine will still contract the disease if they are exposed. Though, their symptoms will most likely be far milder, and those infected are less likely to spread the infection to others.

How Long Does It Take the Measles to Set In?

If someone, child or adult, is exposed to the measles virus, it typically takes about 10-12 days for symptoms to appear. Which often leads to a higher rate of contagion as, in some cases, people don’t realize they are carrying and spreading the disease for almost two weeks.

In this handout from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), histopathology of measles pneumonia is seen in this microscope image

Source: CDC/Getty Images

Once symptoms do set in, they typically only last between 7-10 days and can feel like a bad flu. But sadly, for some, the measles virus can lead to brain swelling, vision impairment, and pneumonia, which can be fatal. 

9 States Have Reported Cases of Measles in the Past Month

Although, thanks to the vaccine, measles is all but eradicated in the United States, it can still be contracted, especially when traveling abroad.

Map of the United States with the nine states noted with a red dot that has confirmed measles cases

Source: iStock

Most often, these are isolated cases. However, in February 2024, nine different states announced that one or more of their residents had been in contact with the disease. These states include Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Washington, and California

The Majority of Those Infected Recently Traveled via Plane

According to the various health departments of the nine affected states, the majority of those infected had recently flown on a commercial airline, either abroad or domestically. 

Airplane flying through the sky during sunset

Source: Freepik

The Maryland Department of Health released a statement that the infected resident there had flown through Washington Dulles International Airport on the morning of January 27. And, consequently, anyone who was in the airport at that time could have been infected. 


LA County Department of Public Health Made a Similar Announcement Regarding LAX

At the same time, the  Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported that an infected person traveled through LAX on the afternoon of January 25. 

Travelers wait for their bags amid rows of unclaimed luggage at the United Airlines baggage claim area at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

And that fellow travelers who were in Terminal B from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM on that day should be checked by a physician. They also noted that the exposed person went to Chick-fil-A in Northridge for dinner and that anyone who visited the restaurant that night could have been exposed. 


Ohio, Georgia, and Missouri Made Similar Announcements

The Georgia Department of Health announced on January 18, 2024, that an Atlanta resident who recently traveled abroad has contracted the virus. And on January 12, Missouri’s health department made a similar proclamation, saying the infected person recently traveled through Kansas City International Airport. 

Screenshot of a post from the Ohio Department of Health on Facebook regarding measles protection

Source: @OHdeptofhealth/Facebook

The Ohio Department of Health announced its first case just days later on February 3, stating that they are working to ensure everyone who may have been exposed gets tested as soon as possible.


Pennsylvania Has More Confirmed Cases Than Any Other State

In New Jersey, there has only been one confirmed case so far. And there is also only one infected person in Delaware. However the health department announced that some 20-30 people have been exposed at the Nemours Children’s Hospital. 

Exterior view of the Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware

Source: Wikipedia

Pennsylvania and Washington health officials have also alerted the public of confirmed cases in Philadelphia and Clark and Wahkiakum counties, respectively. In Washington, there are now three infected persons, while in Pennsylvania, there are eight.  


Could There Be a Measles Outbreak in America?

It’s important to understand that while these several confirmed cases throughout the country are cause for concern, because the majority of Americans are vaccinated, the CDC isn’t worried about an outbreak at this time. 

Exterior of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia

Source: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

That being said, the CDC has announced that Americans and health care professionals “should be on alert.” 


Physicians Need to Be on High Alert

The CDC also gave specific instructions within its announcement to doctors across the country as to what they should do if they believe a patient may have been exposed to the virus.

Doctor holding a clipboard and writing down notes

Source: Freepik

First, they noted that those who may have been exposed need to be isolated from others. Additionally, they should be tested for the disease, and the local health department should be notified immediately if they test positive.  


All Americans Should Ensure They Are Vaccinated for Measles

Finally, the CDC wants to make it exceptionally clear that all Americans should ensure they have been vaccinated against the virus. Especially for those who plan to travel abroad. 

A children's doctor injects a vaccine against measles, rubella, mumps, and chicken pox to an infant

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

And anyone, but especially those who live in the infected areas, should see a doctor immediately if they believe they have been exposed or experience any of the possible symptoms.