By CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – This year has been the worst for measles since 2000, with more than 760 cases of the vaccine-preventable disease infecting a wide range of the country. Now a new study says the numbers will get worse before they get better, and goes as far as to predict which areas of the country are at the highest risk for an outbreak. And Colorado, specifically the City and County of Denver, makes the list.

(credit: CBS)

Researchers at Johns Hopkins took a look at three main factors that make up the contagious recipe for disease spread:

– The number of unvaccinated children (due to religious or philosophical objections)
– Ease of international air travel
– The measles rate of countries where these people would be traveling from

You can see the formula here:

Unvaccinated + travel + rates of measles in countries that could infect America

Normally, there is little risk for a major outbreak when a foreign traveler brings measles to the U.S., but with more and more Americans being unvaccinated, the disease now has the invitation to spread like wildfire if one single person brings the disease to an area.

Here are the counties most at risk, according to the study:

  1. Cook, Illinois
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Miami-Dade, Florida
  4. Queens, New York
  5. King, Washington
  6. Maricopa, Arizona
  7. Broward, Florida
  8. Clark, Nevada
  9. Harris, Texas
  10. Honolulu, Hawaii
  11. Wayne, Michigan
  12. Tarrant, Texas
  13. Multnomah, Oregon
  14. Orange, Florida
  15. Essex, New Jersey
  16. Denver
  17. Hillsborough, Florida
  18. San Mateo, California
  19. Salt Lake City
  20. Suffolk, Massachusetts

All of these counties, and immediate surrounding areas, are associated with poor vaccination rates, proximity to an international airport and high rates of foreign travelers.

It would be easy to assume that this is all speculation or fear-mongering. It is not. The study model was actually competed months ago, and most of these areas have already seen cases of measles. And the reason the numbers are expected to worsen is simple: higher rates of travel during the summer months.

Measles is a bad disease. It is also a preventable one. Don’t regret a poor choice, no matter where you live.

Dr. Dave Hnida

  1. Robert Chase says:

    Why isn’t Boulder on the list? It is reported to have a very low rate of vaccination. Governor Polis may come to regret his stance on limiting exemptions from vaccination if the measels outbreak is a bad one.

Leave a Reply