Back in 2000, health experts thought they'd eradicated measles in the US. They were wrong. As of Aug. 24 there have been 159 cases this year, putting the country on pace to top 2011's 222 cases, the CDC revealed yesterday. That would make this year the worst since 1996, which saw 500 cases. The contributing factors: travel and vaccination foes. All of the outbreaks can be traced to someone bringing the disease from a foreign country, NPR reports. But nearly two-thirds of cases occurred in three communities (one of which is this one) where religious or philosophical objections to vaccination are common, according to CNN.
Eighty-two percent of those infected hadn't been vaccinated, and another 9% didn't know if they had been, CBS reports. The CDC believes discredited fears about the vaccine, like the myth that it causes autism, are contributing to the problem. "This is very bad. This is horrible," says one infectious disease expert. "The complications of measles are not to be toyed with, and they're not altogether rare." And because babies under a year old can't be vaccinated, vaccination foes are potentially endangering their neighbors' babies. "None of us lives in isolation," the expert says. (Read more vaccine stories.)