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As of May 23, 288 confirmed cases of measles have been reported in the United States this year, and that number will grow, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. This is the highest number since homegrown outbreaks were eliminated in 2000, USA Today says, and the highest tally for late May since 1994.
"This is not the kind of record we want to break, but should be a wake-up call for travelers and for parents to make sure vaccination records are up to date," said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.
In Ohio, all 166 measles patients this year are members of the Amish community; the CDC says that Amish missionaries brought the virus back from the Philippines. Cases have turned up in 18 states, and 90 percent of those patients have either never been vaccinated or are unsure. The highly contagious virus is spread by breathing, coughing, or sneezing, and because it is rarely seen in the United States, doctors may not recognize the symptoms: fever, red eyes, sore throat, a runny nose, and a red rash that shows up three to five days later.