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US Measles Outbreak Likely Originated in Philippines

By    |   Wednesday, 18 February 2015 03:57 PM

California health officials now believe the Disneyland measles outbreak may have originated in the Philippines. Lab tests show the  measles virus at the center of the nationwide outbreak shares the same genetic material as the type most commonly found in the Philippines, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

Scientists say the findings make it likely that the virus originated in the Philippines, but they still don't know exactly how it got into the United States.
Officials emphasized that the outbreak could have come from a traveler from any number of countries. The type of measles found in the Philippines, known as B3, has been present in at least 14 other countries, including Brazil, England, and Germany as well as six other American states.
The California Department of Public Health reported its findings to federal authorities, based on a genetic analysis of the measles virus found in 30 California patients.
"The genotype is really the genetic fingerprint of the virus, and so it certainly tells us the number of cases that we have been seeing in California likely all relate to that individual that began at Disneyland," said Matt Zahn, M.D., medical director of epidemiology for Orange County.
Officials have not been able to identify the initial person or family that brought the measles into Disneyland, which was contracted by at least 39 people who worked or visited the theme park between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20.
Experts say the outbreak shows how even one infected measles traveler from any country can cause a significant outbreak, especially at a time of declining vaccination levels in the United States.
Most patients in the outbreak were unvaccinated. Of the 63 measles patients in California with vaccination records, 49 were completely unvaccinated. Twenty-eight were intentionally unvaccinated due to a parent's personal beliefs, one was on an "alternative plan for vaccination," and 12 were too young to be immunized, state officials said.
"This outbreak illustrates the continued importance of ensuring high measles vaccination coverage in the United States," officials said.
The measles outbreak has since spread to seven other states, Mexico and Canada, involving at least 139 confirmed cases.
Domestic transmission of measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000. For about a decade, the median number of measles cases reported annually was only 60, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the Disneyland outbreak highlights how even people who never leave the U.S. can still get measles by simply going to places with large numbers of global travelers — such as theme parks, airports, and other tourist destinations. In such places, unvaccinated people are at risk, including infants younger than the age of 1 who are too young to be immunized or those with cancer and other disease who cannot be vaccinated.
An estimated 20 million cases of measles occur every year worldwide, causing about 145,700 deaths, CDC officials said.
"Measles can come into our country easily through visitors or when Americans travel abroad and bring it back," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

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California officials now believe the Disneyland measles outbreak may have originated in the Philippines.
measles, disney, land, vaccine
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 03:57 PM
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