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USA officials say measles cases hit 25-year record

The disease has already been confirmed in at least 695 cases across 22 states- almost double the total cases in all of 2018 - in what has now become the worst measles outbreak since the disease was eradicated almost 20 years ago. In fact, such cases account for 88% of the total thus far this year.

The vast majority of cases have occurred in children who have not received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which confers immunity to the disease, officials said.

Officials said that year, numerous cases occurred in unvaccinated Amish communities in OH, as well as due to cases brought from the Philippines. "The measles vaccines are among the most extensively studied medical products we have, and their safety has been firmly established over many years in some of the largest vaccine studies ever undertaken", said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

It's the highest level in the USA since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. The suffering we are seeing today is completely avoidable. CDC recommends that people who are living in or traveling to outbreak areas should check their vaccination status and consider getting a new dose.

She explained that in places where there are 'extreme disease pressures, we know that there can be vaccine failures'.

None of the victims of the recent outbreak have died, but 3 per cent have contracted pneumonia and 9 per cent have been hospitalised due to complications from the disease, CDC director Robert Redfield said. Officials said that in addition to two outbreaks that have been linked to patients with worldwide travel, there have been 28 other outbreak-associated cases. Most of those sickened in this year's outbreaks have been unvaccinated, and most are in children younger than 18, he said. No deaths have been reported. Measles may cause pregnant woman to give birth prematurely or have a low-birth-weight baby.

About one out of every 1,000 children with measles will develop swelling of the brain, or encephalitis, which can lead to convulsions and leave the child deaf or with an intellectual disability.

The United States was able to eliminate person-to-person transmission of measles in 2000.

While two doses of the vaccine are recommended for children, a single dose of the measles vaccine should be sufficient for an adult.

The current outbreaks are believed to trace back to visits to Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines as measles remains common in some countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Since few people born in the 1960s likely have their vaccination records handy, many may be uncertain as to whether they got the ineffective vaccine or were later vaccinated with the newer version.

As a result, when unvaccinated travelers get measles overseas and return to the United States, especially to close-knit communities with low vaccination rates, these communities are "at risk of sustained measles outbreaks", the CDC report said.

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