U.S. government public health officials say the number of measles cases in the United States has hit a record high for any year since the childhood illness was eradicated in the country in 2000. As of May 23rd, the number of confirmed cases stood at 288, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
It’s believed travelers picked up the disease in the Philippines and it spread to unvaccinated individuals in a number of U.S. communities. The Philippines has been experiencing a large measles outbreak since October of last year.
U.S. health officials do not expect the outbreak to end anytime soon, predicting more people will become infected into the summer months.
The greatest number of cases has been reported in the U.S. state of Ohio, in Amish communities. Rates of vaccination are low among the religious Christian sect, that makes decisions regarding health, education and human relationships based on biblical beliefs. However, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Health says members of those communities have been cooperative and are lining up now to get vaccinated.
Measles is so rare, nowadays, officials say many doctors do not recognize the symptoms of the highly contagious disease. They include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and a red rash which appears three to five days after exposure.