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Measles Outbreak Rises to 64 Cases, Most Since 2001
Date:5/1/2008

CDC says failure to be vaccinated is behind the worrisome trend

THURSDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- There were 64 confirmed cases of measles in the United States from January through April 25, the highest number of cases in that time period since 2001, U.S. health officials said Thursday.

Cases have been reported in nine states, and measles outbreaks are continuing in Arizona, Michigan, New York and Wisconsin. Another eight cases have been reported in Washington state since April 25, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Many people have forgotten about measles, but it causes about 20 million infections around the world every year," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a teleconference.

"Measles have been increasing in the United States, mostly due to importation from Europe and Israel," Schuchat added. Belgium, China, Japan, India and Italy are also sources of the measles virus, she said.

"These cases of measles are coming particularly from outbreaks that are occurring in Switzerland and Israel," she said. "In Switzerland, there have already been more than 2,000 cases and in Israel more than 1,000."

The U.S. outbreaks have primarily affected people not vaccinated against the disease. Recently, some parents have been concerned that vaccines -- such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine -- can cause autism or other diseases, and have decided against vaccination for their children. This trend has left children vulnerable to diseases that had virtually disappeared in the United States, Schuchat said.

"In the U.S. outbreaks this year, two-thirds of children who are old enough to be immunized but are not turned out not to be immunized because of personal belief or religious exception," Schuchat said. "This is a new trend, and I am concerned these communities may be growing," she
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