HealthDay News — In a commentary published online May 9 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, an analysis is proposed that can predict counties at risk for a measles outbreak.
Sahotra Sarkar, Ph.D., from the University of Texas in Austin, and colleagues describe a quantitative model that identifies the U.S. counties with the highest risk for measles outbreak in 2019. The spatial relative risk profile was derived from a function compounding four factors: international air travel volume, nonmedical exemptions, county population, and incidence of measles outbreak at travel origin.
The researchers note that the results of these calculations are spatially consistent with the reported measles cases. At least 45 U.S. counties have reported measles cases in 2019; 30 of these are included in the top 25 at-risk counties identified in the analysis or are counties adjacent to them. The analysis correctly predicted the areas in Washington, Oregon, and New York that have had major measles outbreaks this year. Each of the counties listed as at-risk that have not yet had an outbreak in 2019 either lies adjacent to a county that has or is served by a major international airport and is therefore at risk for importing measles cases. The researchers say these counties should be targeted for enhanced surveillance and vaccination.
“We recommend that public health officials and policymakers prioritize monitoring the counties we identify to be at high risk that have not yet reported cases,” a coauthor said in a statement.