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Recent Measles Outbreaks in US Have Caused More Illness Than At The Same Point In Last 18 Years

Update Date: Apr 25, 2014 09:46 AM EDT

Measles are off to a fast start in U.S. leaving health officials worried. The recent outbreaks so far have caused more illness than at the same point of any year since 1996. 

According to health officials, 129 cases in 13 states have been reported by mid-April and the bulk of them are in California and New York City. Majority of the cases have been triggered by travelers who caught the virus abroad and spread it in the country among unvaccinated people. 

Officials said many of the travelers had been to the Philippines where a recent measles epidemic caused at least 20,000 illness. 

Since 2000, measles were being considered eliminated aside from occasional small outbreaks caused by overseas travelers. For most of the last decade, the country saw only about 60 cases a year. However, in the last four years the average has been up by nearly 160. 

"This increase in cases may be a 'new normal,' unfortunately," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, in a press release. 

According to a report released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among the 58 cases reported from California, at least 11 were infected in doctor's offices, hospitals or other health-care settings. 

"It's a shock to younger physicians that their own waiting room or emergency room is where people can get measles," said the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat, in the press release. 

Recently a medical journal -the Annals of Internal Medicine - released a commentary suggesting doctors to prevent this kind of situation. 

"We must ensure that our facilities do not become centers for secondary measles transmission," wrote Dr. Julia Shaklee Sammons, an infectious disease specialist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, according to the release. 

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