PH linked to record-high measles cases in US

Rappler.com
PH linked to record-high measles cases in US
Many of the US clusters originated after people traveled to the Philippines, where a large measles outbreak has been ongoing since late 2013

WASHINGTON DC, USA – US health authorities have linked the Philippines to 288 US measles cases so far this year, the most in two decades, a rise that is driven by unvaccinated people.

“This is the largest number of measles cases in the United States reported in the first 5 months of a year since 1994,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, May 29, in the US.

Nearly all the cases have involved Americans who were not vaccinated against the highly contagious disease, and who traveled abroad and caught the infection in other countries.

Then, they “brought the virus back to the United States and spread to others in communities where many people are not vaccinated,” said Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Many of the US clusters originated after people traveled to the Philippines, where a large measles outbreak has been ongoing since late 2013. (READ: Amish volunteers to PH brought measles to Ohio – report)

“Of the 288 cases, 280 (97%) were associated with importations from at least 18 countries…. Forty-five direct importations (40 US residents returning from abroad and 5 foreign visitors) have been reported. Almost half (22 [49%]) of these importations were travelers returning from the Philippines, where a large outbreak has been occurring since October 2013,” the CDC said.

‘Importations’ problematic

US health authorities noted that in the Philippines, “32,030 measles cases (26,014 suspected cases and 6,016 confirmed cases) and 41 measles deaths have been reported from January 1 through April 20.” (READ: Measles-free Philippines by 2017?)

“The large number of importations from the Philippines highlights how importations are related to increases in measles incidence in countries that are common destinations for US travelers,” the CDC said. 

It added that 90% of all measles cases in the US “were in people who were not vaccinated or whose vaccination status was unknown.”

Eighty-five percent of unvaccinated people said they declined the shot for “religious, philosophical or personal reasons.”

The CDC urged people to get vaccinated against measles, which it described as a “serious respiratory disease that is highly contagious.”

Symptoms include fever, rash, runny nose, pink eye and cough.

Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 122,000 die from the disease each year. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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