Health official: California measles outbreak 'under control'

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The measles outbreak that has sickened 59 people in California this year has been effectively contained for now, according to a senior state health official. The California Department of Public Health has reported just three new cases of measles in the past two weeks.

"We’ve gotten those localized outbreaks under control," said Dr. James Watt, chief of the division of communicable disease control at the California Department of Public Health. Since measles was declared eliminated in 2000, California has typically had between 4 and 40 cases a year, mostly in people who contracted it in other countries.

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This year’s outbreak began when several people imported the disease from abroad, said Watt, adding that it spread quickly, especially among people who were not vaccinated against the highly contagious disease.

At least 25 people sickened with measles were unvaccinated, and at least 19 of them were intentionally not vaccinated, according to the Department.

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The state is "not seeing any more local transmission of measles," said Watt. But with the disease raging in other countries, it’s possible that the disease could be re-introduced in the Golden State, he added.

About 20,000 cases of measles and 69 measles-related deaths were reported in the Philippines in the first four months of the year, according to the World Health Organization.

"The situation in the Philippines makes me more concerned than I have been in previous years that the risk of having more cases is higher than it’s been," Watt said.

Of the state’s 59 cases of measles, more than a dozen were acquired internationally, and at least eight were imported from the Philippines.

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