A new study has pinned Hillsborough County as one of the top 20 counties among the country’s more than 3,000 counties to have he highest risk of measles.
According to a newly released report published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Johns Hopkins University say more than 700 confirmed measles cases in 45 counties are currently concentrated in 22 states, and Florida is one of them with two confirmed cases.
And medical experts are only expecting it to get worse.
“For measles, most experts believe that there will be one to two deaths per 1,000 cases, most likely infants. We are set to see over 1,000 cases in the U.S. in 2019. So, for the first time since the 1980s, we may expect infant deaths from measles in the U.S.,” said the study’s lead author, Sahotra Sarkar, an integrative biology professor at UT Austin.
Multiple counties in Florida are among the most at-risk counties in the country, and Hillsborough stands at No. 17 with its projected risk double what it was in previous years.
Hillsborough County has a population of 1,408,566 and according to researchers, the relative risk calculated that about 28,171 Hillsborough residents will contract the illness.
But this study doesn’t have the only eye-opening data about the Bay area’s risk for spreading measles across the community.
Last week, USF research unveiled a outbreak simulator showing how serious the effects of lowered measles vaccination rates can be for the Tampa Bay area.
The model starts with the scenario of a single student with measles attending school in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area in the state, and shows how the disease could spread over a 266-day period.
According to the simulator, in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area the numbers are alarming with the outbreak growing from 16 cases to 18,673.