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US’s Worst Measles Epidemic in 27 Years to be in Its Final Stages as No New Cases Reported

“To get to zero is tremendously encouraging,” said Jason Schwartz, a Yale University expert on vaccination policy

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File - A woman receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., north of New York City, March 27, 2019. VOA

The nation’s worst measles epidemic in 27 years could be in its final stages as a week went by with no new reported cases.

“To get to zero is tremendously encouraging,” said Jason Schwartz, a Yale University expert on vaccination policy.

The current epidemic emerged about a year ago and took off earlier this year, with most of the cases reported in Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City. It started with travelers who had become infected overseas but spread quickly among unvaccinated people.

In the spring, 70 or more new cases were being reported every week. Not long ago, the nation that saw that many measles cases in a whole year.

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The nation’s worst measles epidemic in 27 years could be in its final stages as a week went by with no new reported cases. Pixabay

So far this year, 1,241 cases have been confirmed — a number that didn’t rise last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. The last time the CDC reported no new measles cases was 11 months ago.

New York officials responded to the explosion of measles cases with a wave of measures, including education campaigns to counter misinformation about vaccine safety and fines for people who didn’t get vaccinated.

The epidemic has threatened the Unites States’ nearly 2-decade-old status as a nation that has eliminated measles. The status could come to an end if the disease spreads among Americans for a year or more. Other countries, including Greece and the United Kingdom, recently lost their elimination status amid a global surge in the disease.

Measles outbreaks are typically declared over when 42 days pass without a new infection. If no new cases crop up, the national outbreak would likely end on or about Sept. 30 — just before officials might have to decide on the U.S. elimination status.

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The loss of elimination status in the U.S. could take the steam out of measles vaccination campaigns in other countries, said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University vaccine expert.

Health ministers around the world might say, “Why should we strive for elimination? We’ll just do the best we can to control measles, but we won’t go the extra several miles to get to zero,” Schaffner said. (VOA)

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New Virus Can Spread Through Human Contact: China

China: Possible That New Virus Could Spread Between Humans

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Security guards stand in front of the closed Huanan wholesale seafood market, where health authorities say a man who died from a respiratory illness had purchased goods from, in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China. VOA

The possibility that a new virus in central China could spread between humans cannot be ruled out, though the risk of transmission at the moment appears to be low, Chinese officials said Wednesday.

Forty-one people in the city of Wuhan have received a preliminary diagnosis of a novel coronavirus, a family of viruses that can cause both the common cold and more serious diseases. A 61-year-old man with severe underlying conditions died from the coronavirus on Saturday.

While preliminary investigations indicate that most of the patients had worked at or visited a particular seafood wholesale market, one woman may have contracted the virus from her husband, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a public notice.

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Commuters wear protection masks inside a subway train in Hong Kong, China. VOA

The commission said the husband, who fell ill first, worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Meanwhile, the wife said she hasn’t had any exposure to the market.

It’s possible that the husband brought home food from the market that then infected his wife, Hong Kong health official Chuang Shuk-kwan said at a news briefing. But because the wife did not exhibit symptoms until days after her husband, it’s also possible that he infected her.

Chuang and other Hong Kong health officials spoke to reporters Wednesday following a trip to Wuhan, where mainland Chinese authorities briefed them on the outbreak.

The threat of human-to-human transmission remains low, Chuang said, as hundreds of people, including medical professionals, have been in close contact with infected individuals and have not been infected themselves.

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She echoed Wuhan authorities’ assertion that there remains no definitive evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The outbreak in Wuhan has raised the specter of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS is a type of coronavirus that first struck southern China in late 2002. It then spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people. (VOA)