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No, there’s not a measles outbreak

No, there’s not a measles outbreak
[Photo: Drew Hays/Unsplash]

The Centers for Disease Control wants people to know that there is no current multi-state measles outbreak. Yes, people have come down with the preventable illness over the last year, but it’s no more than to be expected—especially when people stubbornly refuse to get vaccinated.

Yesterday, the CDC tweeted the good news that there is no measles outbreak after some media outlets misinterpreted CDC data about the state of measles in the United States in 2018.

Here’s what happened: 

  • On Wednesday, federal officials announced that 107 people had contracted the disease from January 1 to July 14 of this year. Cases were reported in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland,  Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington. The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.
  • While that sure sounds like a multi-state measles outbreak, according to the CDC, it’s not. The number of measles cases this year is reportedly on par with those of recent years. No cause for alarm, unless you have a high fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, a rash all over your body, and never got the measles vaccine.

In fairness, the confusion is understandable. The webpage where the CDC published its data is titled “Measles Cases and Outbreaks.” However, the relevant information is under a subhead that says simply “Measles Cases.” This is why good design matters.

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