- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control said this week the 288 cases of measles reported during the first five months of the year mark a 20-year high, and nearly all have been tied to international travel by unvaccinated people.

Officials said 280 of the cases were associated with importations from at least 18 countries, and more than one in seven cases has required hospitalization.

The CDC says measles is a serious respiratory disease that is highly contagious and still common in parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Patients with fever and rash along with a cough, runny nose or pink eye should be evaluated for it.

“The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people, primarily U.S. residents, who got measles in other countries, brought the virus back to the United States and spread to others in communities where many people are not vaccinated,” said Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. “Many of the clusters in the U.S. began following travel to the Philippines where a large outbreak has been occurring since October 2013.”

Among U.S. residents who were not vaccinated, 85 percent cited religious, philosophical or personal reasons, the CDC said.