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Spike In Measles Cases Nationwide Hits 20-Year High

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Measles outbreak. A health warning nationwide, as cases hit a 20-year high. Federal health officials trace the spike back to people who don’t get vaccinated and then travel overseas.

Christie Ileto reports the C.D.C. calls this a wake up call.

A deadly disease making a frightening comeback in the U.S. The C.D.C. says measles is sweeping the country, with 288 cases in the first five months of the year. The previous high was 220 cases for all of 2011.

“Measles is an incredibly contagious virus,” said Dr. Scott Krugman.

Krugman says symptoms aren’t always identifiable as measles.

“High fever, cough, runny nose, little spots in the back of the mouth that can be identified but tricky to notice,” he said. “The rash then does appear.”

Health experts say most of the nationwide cases are linked to Americans who’ve brought back the illness from other countries.

The C.D.C. says the biggest outbreaks are in Ohio, California and New York–mostly in communities that don’t get vaccinations due to religious or personal beliefs.

Parents like Tobi Kester say that’s cause for concern.

“It surprises me more that a lot of people who just don’t quiet buy into the vaccination process as a valid procedure,” she said.

But critics like an Annapolis mother who spoke with WJZ in a special report, refused to get shots for her kids, arguing vaccinations do more harm than good. Still, health experts warn to play it safe.

“If the number of vaccinated kids keeps going down then we could have measles back in this country again,” said Krugman.

Measles was considered to have been eliminated in 2000, meaning there were no reported cases for the entire year.

The last time the C.D.C. saw this many cases this early in the year was in 1994, when 764 people were infected by this time.

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