Friday, July 11, 2008

Measles Outbreak Is Worst in a Decade

WASHINGTON (July 10) - The biggest U.S. outbreak of measles since 1997 has sickened 127 people in 15 states, most of whom were not vaccinated against the highly contagious viral illness, federal health officials said on Wednesday.The outbreak was driven by travelers who became infected overseas -- 10 countries are implicated -- then returned to the United States ill and infected others, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Thanks to a vaccination program dating to 1963, measles is no longer endemic in the United States, with ongoing transmission of the virus declared eliminated in 2000.Public health officials have been stressing the importance of immunizing children amid increasingly vocal vaccine opponents who object to them for religious or other reasons or because they fear the shots may cause autism or other harm.British health officials said last month that measles had again become endemic in that country for the first time since the mid-1990s due to parents declining to get their children vaccinated."The primary reason for lack of vaccination is personal belief exemptions," the CDC's Dr. Larry Pickering told a news conference arranged by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

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