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Measles Cases in US Reach Second-Highest Level Since 2000

© Flickr / NIAIDHealth officials say two doses of the MMR vaccine provide full protection against measles.
Health officials say two doses of the MMR vaccine provide full protection against measles. - Sputnik International
The number of measles cases in the US is currently at the second-highest level since measles was eliminated in the country in 2000, according to a report released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the report, there have been 555 reported measles cases this year in the US as of last Thursday, which is 183 more than last year's total. By the end of the year, the number of measles cases in the US could come close to the tally reported 25 years ago in 1994: 963 cases. The highest number of reported cases since 2000 was 667 in 2014, according to the CDC. 

A young girl runs past a house in Antananarivo, Madagascar - Sputnik International
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The states that have reported measles cases to the CDC include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington, bringing the total number of US states affected to 20.

According to the CDC, measles is a very contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of infected individuals. It can be transmitted to others through coughing and sneezing. The virus can be prevented with the MMR vaccine, which also protects against mumps (a viral infection that affects the salivary glands) and rubella (also a viral infection that is identified by its distinctive red rash).

The CDC recommends that children get two doses of MMR vaccine, with the first dose administered at between 12 and 15 months of age and the second dose at four to six years of age.

According to the report, there were 17 measles outbreaks in 2018, mostly in New York state, New York City and New Jersey. The majority of those cases occurred among unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities and were disseminated through travelers who caught the disease in Israel.

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) also released a report stating that the number of reported global cases of measles has increased by 300 percent in the first few months of 2019, in comparison to the same period of time last year.

Outbreaks are currently occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine. 

A health worker administers a measles vaccine in rural Ohio in 2014, where a measles outbreak of over 300 cases was the largest in the U.S. since 1994. - Sputnik International
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In Madagascar, one of the poorest nations in the world, an outbreak began in September 2018, and at least 117,075 cases of the disease have been reported by the nation's health ministry as of last month.

"If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch a contaminated surface, then touch their eyes, noses or mouths, they can become infected," the CDC warns on its website. "Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected."

Many of those suffering from the deadly epidemic in Madagascar are forced to walk miles to reach understaffed and under-funded clinics which routinely must turn them away with only advice, Sputnik previously reported.

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