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Measles is a viral infection that is highly contagious. It is easily spread through the air when an infected individual sneezes or coughs and can linger and remain infectious in an enclosed space for up to two hours after an infected person has left.

The MMR or MMRV vaccines are considered by the CDC to be safe and effective. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles.

While vaccines have made these diseases much less common in the United States, measles, in particular, experienced a significant increase in the number of reported cases beginning in 2018 and accelerating through year-to-date 2019.

According to the most recent national data from the CDC, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 15, 2019, 1,203 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 30 states, including New Jersey. This seven-month running total is already more than three times the number of cases reported in all of 2018, and more than double the combined cases reported in the three preceding years (372 cases in 2018, 120 in 2017, and 86 cases in 2016, for a three-year total of 578 cases).1

Despite the progress made in recent years toward eliminating this disease, New Jersey has experienced major outbreaks in 2018 and 2019. According to the N.J. Department of Health (NJDOH), 37 measles cases were confirmed in New Jersey in 2018. Though New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, its population represents just 2.7 percent of the national total. The 37 confirmed cases of measles, however, represented 10 percent of the 372 cases reported nationwide last year.

As can be seen in the map below, the state’s measles cases in 2018 were spread across five counties, with 30 of the 37 cases located in Ocean County.

Hover over chart to see data.

To date in 2019, Ocean County is again leading the state in the number confirmed measles cases. Per NJDOH, “As of August 16, 2019, there are 18 confirmed cases of measles in New Jersey.”2 Twelve of these cases are associated with the 2019 Measles Outbreak, Ocean County, which was considered over as of May 16.”2 The Ocean County Outbreak actually consisted of 8 confirmed cases in Ocean County residents plus “4 cases in one Monmouth County household that had a direct epidemiologic link to the outbreak community.”

  1. Measles Cases and Outbreaks | CDC. Retrieved August 16, 2019 from
  2. New Jersey Department of Health, Communicable Disease Service. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from