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Measles

After decades of progress against one of the most contagious human viruses, the world is seeing measles stage a slow, steady comeback.

The World Health Organization and the CDC say in a new report that there were nearly 10 million cases of measles last year, with outbreaks on every continent.

An estimated 140,000 people died from measles in 2018, WHO says, up from an all-time low of 90,000 in 2016.

And so far 2019 has been even worse.

The Pacific island nation of Samoa will shut down government services for two days so that civil servants can focus on a nationwide immunization drive as the country struggles to end a measles outbreak that has claimed more than 50 lives, most of them children.

This year saw the largest outbreak of measles in the U.S. since 1994, with 1,250 cases reported as of Oct. 3, largely driven by families choosing not to vaccinate their kids. Worldwide, the disease has resurfaced in areas that had been declared measles-free.

With measles making a comeback in many upper-income countries including the United States and still rampant in some poorer nations such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar, a leading measles expert is warning of a danger beyond the spread of the disease itself: There's mounting evidence that when a person is infected with measles, the virus also wipes out the immune system's memory of how to fight off all sorts of other life-threatening infections – ranging from gastro-intestinal bugs that cause diarrhea to respiratory viruses that trigger pneumonia.

Ohio Public Radio

Prominent attorney Robert F. Kennedy Junior says vaccines are making children sick. 

Updated at 4:33 p.m. ET Friday

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Thursday ending vaccination exemptions based on religious beliefs, the latest attempt to address the growing measles outbreak, the worst the U.S. has experienced in decades.

States are debating whether to make it more difficult for students to avoid vaccinations for religious or philosophical reasons amid the worst measles outbreak in decades, but children using such waivers are outnumbered in many states by those who give no excuse for lacking shots. 

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared measles "eliminated" from the United States. But with measles continuing to spread and at times flourish in many parts of the globe, the U.S. has been unable to remain immune to the disease.

This year, the U.S. has its highest number of measles cases in 25 years. As of this week, the CDC has recorded 704 cases in 22 states.

The reemergence of measles is linked to parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children against this highly contagious disease.

As the nation battles a measles outbreak, there's a new bill in the Ohio legislature requiring parents be told there are exemptions to the law mandating kids to be vaccinated to attend school. 

As the number of measles cases nationwide rises to levels not seen since before the virus was declared eliminated in 2000, some people who oppose vaccines cite an odd cultural reference as evidence that the concern about measles is overblown: a 1969 episode of The Brady Bunch.

Some former Brady Bunch cast members aren't happy about it.

Updated at 6:23 p.m. ET

Hundreds of students and faculty at two universities in Los Angeles have been asked to stay home unless they can prove that they've been vaccinated against measles.

The LA campuses of the University of California and California State University imposed the quarantine after they became aware of people infected with measles who had potentially exposed hundreds. At UCLA, a student exposed at least 500 people earlier this month; at Cal State, someone with measles went to a library and encountered hundreds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 695 measles cases in 22 states.

"This is the greatest number of cases reported in the United States since measles was eliminated from this country in 2000," says a CDC statement issued late Wednesday.

Updated on April 19 at 10 a.m. ET

Washington state has moved a step closer toward making it more difficult for parents to receive exemptions from having their children receive a required immunization.

Columbus Public Health and Jewish Family Services are teaming up to offer free measles vaccinations. 

Measles is surging. Last week the U.S. recorded 90 cases, making this year's outbreak the second largest in more than two decades.

So far this year, the U.S. has confirmed 555 measles cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday. That's 50 percent higher than the total number recorded last year, even though we're only about a quarter of the way through 2019.

And the virus isn't slowing down.

New York City on Tuesday ramped up the battle against the spread of a measles outbreak in a Brooklyn hot spot, declaring a public health emergency and calling for mandatory vaccinations.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the emergency covers four Brooklyn ZIP codes, including most of Williamsburg and Borough Park, which have seen more than 285 cases of the measles since October.

The world has two kinds of measles problems.

In low-income countries like Madagascar and in strife-ridden countries like Yemen, the disease takes a toll because vaccines are not available or accessible or affordable. In Madagascar alone, there have been nearly 80,000 cases and an estimated 900 deaths since September.

time.com

A Norwalk teen who got vaccinated against his mother's wishes testified Tuesday before a U.S. Senate committee examining preventable disease outbreaks.  

There's strong new evidence that a common childhood vaccine is safe.

A large study released Monday finds no evidence that the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella increases the risk of autism. The study of children born in Denmark is one of the largest ever of the MMR vaccine.

All U.S. states require most parents to vaccinate their children against some preventable diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough, to be able to attend school. Such laws often apply to children in private schools and day care facilities as well as public schools.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.

In 1962, children's book author Roald Dahl lost his oldest daughter, Olivia, to measles. She was 7 years old.

Twenty-six years later, Dahl wrote a letter to parents about what happened:

Health officials in Washington have declared a state of emergency and are urging immunization as they scramble to contain a measles outbreak in two counties, while the number of cases of the potentially deadly virus continues to climb in a region with lower-than-normal vaccination rates.

If you take the long view, international health organizations have much to be encouraged about when it comes to the global fight against measles. From 2000 to 2017, for instance, the annual number of measles-related deaths dropped 80 percent — from a toll of over half a million to just under 110,000 last year.

The Centers for Disease Control says more Ohio kids are getting the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine on time.

USA Today

The U.S. Surgeon General is urging central Ohio parents to vaccinate their kids. 

Ohio is tied with Colorado and West Virginia for the lowest measles vaccination rate in the country. 

With the recent breakout of measles and mumps, medical groups in Ohio are ramping up efforts to encourage immunizations.

Health officials say the central Ohio mumps outbreak that resulted in nearly 500 cases of the contagious viral illness has ended.

Measles Outbreak Over?

Sep 9, 2014

State health officials say the measles outbreak that helped push the number of cases to a two-decade high appears to have ended.

No New Measles Cases Since Mid July

Aug 16, 2014

Local and state health officials say no measles cases have been reported since mid-July, while mumps cases continue to be tallied.

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