Visualizing the 2019 Measles Outbreak

(Updated by Carlos Afonso on October 31, 2019)

The United States is facing, in 2019, the highest number of Measles cases since the disease was eliminated in 2000 [CDC]. From January 1 to October 3, 2019, 1,250 measles cases have been (preliminarily) confirmed in 31 states [CDC]. This page presents visualizations that help understand the 2019 measles outbreak.

New York City (NYC)

The measles outbreak in New York City (NYC) was declared over on September 3, 2019, practically one year after the first case was detected. With 649 confirmed measles cases, NYC is by far the U.S. jurisdiction with most cases, accounting for around half of all U.S. measles cases in 2019. The NYC Health Measles webpage provides raw data about the number of measles cases by neighborhood, age, vaccination status, and date. This section presents visualizations of that raw data, to help understand the 2019 measles outbreak in NYC.

NYC new measles cases by month

The bar chart below shows the temporal evolution of the NYC measles outbreak. In April 2019, at the peak of the measles outbreak, the NYC Health Department took strong measures to increase MMR vaccinations in the most affected neighborhoods. In the following months, the number of new measles cases declined progressively. In August 2019 there were no new cases. On September 3, 2019, community transmission was declared over.

NYC measles cases by neighborhood

The visualization below shows the geographic distribution of the measles cases over the NYC map, explicitly showing the number of measles cases in each of the affected neighborhoods.

Note that:

NYC measles cases by age

Most of the NYC measles cases are in children, particularly the ones aged from 1 to 4 years.

NYC measles cases by vaccination status

The bar chart below shows the MMR vaccination status of the NYC measles cases. The large majority of the people who got measles were unvaccinated.


PyData NYC 2019: I presented part of this project at the PyData NYC 2019 conference in a tutorial entitled “Visualizing the 2019 Measles Outbreak in NYC (with Python)”. Links to all tutorial materials are available in the GitHub repository’s page.

This webpage is a work in progress:

This webpage is for information purposes only, it is not for medical advice.

Data sources used:

This webpage is part of the measles GitHub repository, created by Carlos Afonso.