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Measles cases exceed 700 as outbreak continues in U.S.

Christian Fernsby |
Over 700 measles cases have been confirmed in 22 states of the United States since the beginning of this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Monday.

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More than 500 of the 704 cases reported so far were in people who had not been vaccinated, the CDC said. Sixty-six people have been hospitalized.

This is the greatest number of cases reported in the United States since measles was eliminated from the country in 2000. The CDC warned that the longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again gain a sustained foothold in the country.

About 400 of the cases have been found in New York City and its suburbs and the outbreak has spread to Detroit, according to a New York Times report.

Los Angeles is now experiencing a fast-growing outbreak. Hundreds of university students who are thought to have been exposed and cannot prove that they have had their shots have been asked to quarantine themselves at home, said the report.

More than 94 percent of American parents vaccinate their children against measles and other diseases, Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said Monday, noting about 100,000 children under age 2 in the United States have not been vaccinated and therefore are vulnerable in this outbreak.

In recent outbreaks, measles was imported when unvaccinated travelers visited a country where there is widespread measles transmission, gets infected with measles, and returns to the United States and exposes people in a community who are not vaccinated, said the CDC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported this month that there has been a 300-percent increase in the number of measles cases worldwide compared with the first three months of 2018. That increase is part of a global trend seen over the past few years as other countries struggle with declining vaccination rates.

A significant factor contributing to the outbreaks in New York is misinformation in the communities about the safety of the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine, as some organizations are deliberately targeting these communities with inaccurate and misleading information about vaccines, according to the CDC.

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