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US Records 695 Measles Cases, Most Since Disease Declared Eliminated In 2000

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 695 cases of measles in the United States so far this year, the highest number of infections recorded since the contagious disease was declared eliminated from the country in 2000.

"The high number of cases in 2019 is primarily the result of a few large outbreaks - one in Washington State and two large outbreaks in New York that started in late 2018," CDC said in a statement.

The alarming rise in number of measles cases comes amid UNICEF report that more than 20 million children worldwide missed out on the vaccine annually in past 8 years, creating a pathway to current global outbreaks.

In the first three months of 2019, more than 110,000 measles cases were reported worldwide - up nearly 300 per cent from the same period last year, the World Health Organization reports. An estimated 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles in 2017, a 22 per cent increase from the year before.

The outbreaks in New York City and New York State are among the largest and longest lasting since measles elimination in 2000. CDC warns that the longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again get a sustained foothold in the United States.

CDC said its staff are working 24/7 to protect Americans from this contagious disease. "Today, the overwhelming majority of parents choose to protect their children with vaccines, and we've seen high and stable immunization rates in the U.S. for several years," CDC claimed.

But this is contradictory to UN estimates.

"The United States tops the list of high-income countries with the most children not receiving the first dose of the vaccine between 2010 and 2017, at more than 2.5 million," UNICEF said in a press release it published on Thursday.

US authorities put the balme on the recent outbreaks on importation. "Measles is imported when an unvaccinated traveler visits 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."

CDC said that a significant factor contributing to the outbreaks in New York is misinformation in the communities about the safety of the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine. Some organizations are deliberately targeting these communities with inaccurate and misleading information about vaccines, it alleged.

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