Was Measles Really Eliminated in the U.S. in 2000?

Was Measles Really Eliminated in the U.S. in 2000?

One of the favorite lines of attack against so-called “anti-vaxxers,” especially parents who decline to give their children one or more government recommended vaccines, is to always blame the unvaccinated for the resurgence of childhood infectious diseases such as measles.

In the case of measles, the story goes something like this:

We had eliminated measles in the United States in 2000, but the disease has come back and is now spreading and threatening everyone. It’s all because of those stupid science deniers who are refusing to vaccinate their children!

“Measles cases break record since disease was eliminated in United States in 2000” read a recent headline in The Washington Post.1 A similar headline from CNBCThis is the worst year for measles in the U.S. since the disease was eliminated nationally in 2000″.2 Reuters wrote, “U.S. measles cases hit highest level since eradication in 2000”.3 Here’s one from BuzzFeed, “Measles Outbreaks In The U.S. Are Now The Worst On Record Since The Disease Was Eradicated”4 and another from WIRED, “Measles had been eliminated. Now it’s nearly a daily threat”.5

All of those headlines give the impression that, after achieving a high MMR vaccination rate among pre-school and older school children, there were no cases of measles in the U.S. in 2000 because America had finally become “measles-free” that year.

That did not happen.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 86 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S. in 2000. Of those cases, “26 (30%) were inter-nationally imported,” noted the CDC. “Of the 60 indigenous cases, 18 were import-linked, nine were imported virus, and 33 were of unknown source. Importation-associated cases (i.e., imported, import-linked, and imported virus cases) accounted for 62% of all reported cases.”6

So why the discrepancy? A clue to the answer can be found in a CNN headline: “U.S. measles outbreak is largest since disease was declared eliminated in 2000”.7

The key is the word declared—as in pronounced or proclaimed.

In 1966, in the middle of the war in Vietnam, U.S. Senator George Aiken of Vermont famously suggested that the U.S. government simply declare victory and go home. He advised President Lyndon Johnson that a face-saving strategy for pulling out of Vietnam could be to just “declare the United States the winner and begin de-escalation.”8 9 10 11

Sen. Aiken said, “the United States could well declare unilaterally… that we have ‘won’ in the sense that our armed forces are in control of most of the field and no potential enemy is in a position to establish its authority over South Vietnam.” He added that such a declaration “would herald the resumption of political warfare as the dominant theme in Vietnam. It may be a far-fetched proposal, but nothing else has worked.”8 9

Was that the same kind of thinking that inspired the CDC to declare measles eliminated from the U.S. in 2000? There was a 12-month period sometime around 1999-2001 in which there were no confirmed indigenous cases of measles in the country. Based on that “absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months,” the CDC proceeded to issue its declaration.

But the CDC may as well have tried a good old fashioned exorcism, for all it’s worth because there were, indeed, 86 cases of measles in 2000, followed by 116 cases in 2001.12 13

The number of reported measles cases in the U.S. has increased and decreased from year to year ever since.13 14


This article or commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers. The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.

References:

1 Sun LH. Measles cases break record since disease was eliminated in United States in 2000. The Washington Post Apr. 25, 2019.
2 LaVito A. This is the worst year for measles in the U.S. since the disease was eliminated nationally in 2000. CNBC Apr. 24, 2019.
3 Allen J. U.S. measles cases hit highest level since eradication in 2000. Reuters Apr. 24, 2019.
4
Koerner C. Measles Outbreaks In The US Are Now The Worst On Record Since The Disease Was Eradicated. BuzzFeed Apr. 24, 2019.
5
Molteni M. Measles had been eliminated. Now it’s nearly a daily threat. WIRED May 22, 2019.
6
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles — United States, 2000. CDC.gov Feb. 15, 2002.
7
Howard J, Goldschmidt D. U.S. measles outbreak is largest since disease was declared eliminated in 2000. CNN Apr. 25, 2019.
8
O’Connor R. Declaring Victory, Going Home. Huffington Post May 25, 2011.
9
George Aiken. Wikipedia.
10
Linday JM. The Vietnam War in Forty Quotes. Council on Foreign Relations Apr. 30, 2015.
11
Krebs A. George Aiken, Longtime Senator and G.O.P. Maverick, Dies at 92. The New York Times Nov. 20, 1984.
12
CDC. Measles History. CDC.gov.
13
Clemmons NS, Wallace GS, Patel M, Gastañaduy PA. Incidence of Measles in the United States, 2001-2015. JAMA 2017; 318(13): 1279-1281.
14
National Vaccine Information Center. What is the History of Measles in America and Other Countries? NVIC.org.

17 Responses to "Was Measles Really Eliminated in the U.S. in 2000?"

  1. David Weiner   May 22, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    This article is correct. The CDC has a habit of evaluating its programs and, surprise surprise, deeming them successful.

    It likes to brag about water fluoridation, as some great success story, in spite of the mounting evidence that it is producing nothing but harm.

    So instead of simply repeating what the CDC stated, the media should be calling into question the CDC’s previous announcement and saying that it was premature or misleading or whatever.

    Further, we should never permit a government agency to be the judge of its own handiwork. Journalists should look to other sources, especially independent researchers, to obtain a more objective evaluation.

    Reply
  2. Redpill   May 22, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    “the U.S. government simply declare victory and go home.”

    US or rather the CDC ( U.S. Public Health Service) declared Polio was gone when they changed the name. The polio vaccine was licensed in the U.S. in 1954. Those cases were automatically eliminated by two radical changes the CDC made to the diagnostic parameters and labeling protocol of the disease as soon as the vaccine was licensed—30,000 cases a year we were subsequently told were eliminated by the vaccine. In 1958, the CDC formally adopted the “Best available paralytic poliomyelitis case count” or BAPPCC.

    “Cases must be clinically and epidemiologically compatible with poliomyelitis, must have resulted in paralysis, and must have a residual neurological deficit 60 days after onset of initial symptoms. .. the BAPPCC does not include cases of nonparalytic poliomyelitis, of those in which paralysis is more transient. The original purpose of developing these criteria was to omit cases possibly due to enteroviruses other than polioviruses.”

    The definition changes were so radical, that many doctors publicly stated in medical journals, that it effectively eliminated 90% of what had previous been accepted as paralytic polio.

    The second changes was in giving polio new names such as: Acute Flaccid Myelitis, Guillaine Barre Syndrome, Transverse Myelitis, Viral or aseptic Meningitis-all enteroviruses, gut illness that affect the nervous system. All clinical indistinguishable from Polio.

    Measles is another one the CDC plays around with. Some of the names I’ve read are measles like illness, pseudo measles or measles-like-symptoms or a reaction to the vaccine. Yea, that reaction is caused MEASLES. The measles cases will never be accurate because the CDC will not count measles that children get when they are infected by the vaccine. According to my cousin who is an MD and 2 nieces that are RN’s if a child comes in with all the symptoms of measles and the lab confirms and the child isn’t vaccinated-that child is designated as a measles case. But if a child comes in with all the symptoms of measles and the labs confirm measles but the child is vaccinated, the child is not counted as a measles case. So that screws the data in favor of the vaccine. So I suspect that there were more than 86 cases of measles in 2000 because if a child was vaccinated and developed measles from the vaccine which we know from a recent study-Journal of Clinical Microbiology, entitled, “Rapid Identification of Measles Virus Vaccine Genotype by Real-Time PCR,”
    During the measles outbreak in California in 2015, a large number of suspected cases occurred in recent vaccinees. Of the 194 measles virus sequences obtained in the United States in 2015, 73 were identified as vaccine sequences (R. J. McNall, unpublished data). That’s 38%, there is a high probability there were more.

    I would be willing to bet there were more than 86 cases.

    Reply
  3. Lisa   May 23, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    This is a great article, and points to how easily the public can be misled and manipulated by how ‘facts’ are presented in the media. I appreciate that I was easily able to verify all of the author’s reports by simply visiting the CDC.

    Reply
  4. Jean   May 23, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    The last line says it all…..”reported” cases. Since most measles infections resolve without a visit to the doctor, we don’t really know how many cases there were in 2000 or ever. Also, makes one wonder if the numbers now are being fabricated to suit their purpose. So glad I had measles a long time ago.

    Reply
  5. Kimberly   May 23, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Say something loud and often enough, people will start to believe it…

    Reply
  6. Tiffany Colman   May 23, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    I am curious. How’s many of those cases were vaccinated or non vaccinated individuals.

    Reply
  7. Sandra Lee Smith   May 23, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    See also typhoid and typhus, believed by politicians to be “eliminated” and back. No disease is ever really “eliminated”; they all hide out, indigenous, in certain areas and populations, just waiting….

    Reply
  8. Margaret Lovrich   May 23, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    To whom it may concern, EVERY time I try to share one of your articles to Pinterest it is blocked. I just thought you should know.

    Reply
    • Lori   May 24, 2019 at 6:27 pm

      Pinterest has blocked all anti-vax sites.

      Reply
      • Redpill   May 29, 2019 at 5:45 pm

        Yes, they did that a few months ago. If you have an account-close it in protest.

        Reply
  9. Steve Sanborn   May 23, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    The TRUTH will set us free…….from risky,harmful vaccines.

    Reply
  10. Ann   May 23, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Pinterest has banned all articles regarding anti vaccination.
    Our freedom of speech is being taken by the Media. They are
    being bought by BIG PHARMA who only pushes their poisons.

    Reply
  11. DTGB   May 23, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    This may have been said before, but, if vaccinations are as effective at preventing the disease or condition that is being vaccinated for, then, anyone who has not been vaccinated would not be a potential conduit for the transmission of the condition to anyone who has been vaccinated, since those who were vaccinated would thereafter be protected from the condition that they were vaccinated against.
    If a person receives all of the recommended vaccinations at the times they are recommended and in the doses suggested, and that person still comes down with the condition they were supposedly vaccinated against, then, logically, the vaccination was a waste of time and resources expended and was not worth the effort required to perform the vaccination and that would imply that all of the effort to create, manufacture, disseminate and inject into the intended victims those vaccinations was a waste of resources that should have been used for something much more useful.
    I believe that vaccinations are a cash-cow for the pharmaceutical industry. I feel that all protection afforded to the pharmaceutical companies should be immediately rescinded and any and all times that anyone was injured, damaged, or killed by vaccinations should be left open for lawsuit by the victims of the vaccines or by the survivor’s families against the pharmaceutical companies and the owners of those companies, without restriction, other than that the cases be heard in a legitimate, legal, honest court of law and inquiry. If after due investigation and presentation of facts it is determined that the damage caused by vaccinations were, in fact, caused by those vaccinations, then the manufacturers, the companies which manufactured, the owners of those companies–including every asset owned or transferred out of the ownership of those people or organizations after the legislation being proposed is acted on, should be fair game for those injured to take to task the perpetrators of the crime of vaccination and those assets be available to be used to compensate those who were injured.
    Those who profit from the vaccine epidemic should be held responsible for the death and destruction they wrought upon the victims of their race for profit over the benefit they claim will result from administering their poisons.
    In my opinion, vaccines are legalized poison and those who create them, manufacture them, administer them and make profit off of them are all culpable and should be held responsible for the damage they cause, intentionally or inadvertently.

    Reply
  12. Faith Martinez   May 23, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Censorship!

    Reply
  13. Chris   May 24, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Both excellent replies. Here is another article regarding the CDC and its corporate ties with Coca Cola. Here’s an excerpt of the article:

    New emails reveal CDC employees were doing the bidding of Coca-Cola
    Instead of protecting Americans’ health, insiders at the CDC were dutifully helping Coke sell sugar water
    Nicole Karlis February 1, 2019 Salon

    A paper published this week, which analyzed private emails exchanged between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Coca-Cola, revealed how the sugary drink corporation has tried to influence the public health policy decisions of a U.S. federal agency that is supposed to protect Americans’ health.

    The paper was published in the health policy journal Milbank Quarterly, and analyzed 295 pages from 86 emails obtained by the public health group U.S. Right To Know under the Freedom of Information Act. Of the non-profit’s 10 Freedom of Information Act requests, three were still pending at the time of publication and five were rejected “as too broad or because no records were found,” according to the study’s authors. Only three were returned.

    “The returned emails demonstrate three main themes in Coca-Cola’s contact with CDC employees: to gain and expand access, to lobby, and to shift attention and blame away from sugar-sweetened beverages,” the study states.

    https://www.salon.com/2019/02/01/new-emails-reveal-how-cdc-employees-were-doing-the-bidding-of-coca-cola/

    Reply
  14. Anita   May 26, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Funny. My son contracted measles back in 1998 AFTER having received all four doses. He then told me that 50% of all cases of measles reported in Ohio, (where we lived then) had received at least 3 doses of vaccines. So when, exactly was it eradicated?

    Reply
  15. Anita   May 26, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    I should have said, When I talked to his pediatrician, he then told me….. Sorry about that omission.

    Reply

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