It's only May, but the nation's health officials say this year's number of U.S. patients with measles has already surpassed levels not seen since before the turn of the 21st century.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that 288 cases is the largest number of cases in the first five months of the year since 1994, and this year's outbreak is a "wake-up call" for immunization.
Nearly all of this year's cases have been linked to importations from at least 18 countries, and half of the cases have been associated with the Philippines, where a large outbreak has been ongoing since October 2013.
In December 2011, Boise Weekly chronicled the growing number of Idahoans, particularly in Idaho's panhandle, who have been pushing back against immunizing their children (BW, News, "Idaho's Epidemic of Fear," Dec. 14, 2011).
"You need to stop using the word immunization. We don't say immunization. Vaccines don't immunize anything," Ingri Cassel, president of Vaccination Liberation lectured Boise Weekly.
But in the nearby Lake Pend Oreille School District, nurse Dana Williams told BW that she remains perplexed by the number of parents who have opted out of having their children immunized.
"This is stupid," she told BW. "There's absolutely no reason for these exemption rates. We're going to end up with something bad happening here."
And Cynthia Taggart, public information officer for the Panhandle Health District told BW, "It's a mind set. We have had vaccination opponents here for many, many years. It goes way back."