BALTIMORE — World Health Organization leaders say they are “extremely concerned” about measles cases worldwide, which are expected to rise 79 percent from 2022 to 2023.

So far this year, the outbreak has been reported in 11 states, including Maryland, where a confirmed case was found in Montgomery County.

In the year Just two months into 2024 and the CDC reports 20 measles cases in the US, with 58 measles cases in all of 2023. At this rate, we could see a 175% increase in measles cases by 2024.

“It’s one of the most contagious respiratory pathogens we know,” said Dr. William Moss, executive director of the Center for Global Vaccine Access at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It comes on suddenly and is actually characterized by fever and rash.

According to Moss, in rare cases, measles can cause neurological problems in children and lead to death.

“A lot of people here in the United States don’t realize this, but around the world, an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 children die from measles every year,” Moss said.

In the year Measles has long since been eradicated in the US thanks to an effective vaccine developed in the 1960s, reinforced by school entry requirements.

Moss said the measles virus doesn’t mutate like Covid-19 or influenza, so the vaccine typically provides lifelong protection after two shots in childhood.

“We’ve eliminated measles here in the U.S., which means there’s no persistent measles virus circulating in the U.S., but we still have cases of measles because they’re coming in from outside the country,” Moss said.

But in the year We nearly lost measles elimination status in 2019, with more than 1,200 cases in the U.S. due to a global resurgence.

Due to social distancing and travel restrictions during the outbreak, cases in the US dropped to 13 in 2020, but have more than doubled every year since.

Moss said that’s partly due to individuals in the U.S. being exposed or unvaccinated.

“But you don’t have an epidemic with that alone,” Moss said. Because you have to have someone bring the virus.

That’s why health officials are encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against measles.

“Helping them understand that even if they don’t see measles right now, it’s still a threat and that the vaccine is very safe,” Moss said.

Moss said we are not in danger of losing measles elimination status in the US yet.

You can read more about it Measles vaccine here.