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Travelers to China, Southeast Asia warned of measles threat

TAIPEI -- People planning to travel to China or Southeast Asia should take precautions against measles amid a surging number of cases of the viral infection being reported in those regions, Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Thursday.

The number of confirmed measles cases in China, Vietnam and the Philippines so far this year is three times as many as that recorded during the same period of 2013, the CDC said.

Citing data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC said over 90,000 measles cases have been reported globally so far this year, with more than 60 percent of them reported in the West Pacific region.

China tops all countries with 34,843 cases, while the Philippines and Vietnam have reported 17,890 and 2,279 cases, respectively, according to the WHO.

The trend indicates a rising threat for Taiwan because 14 out of the 17 measles cases it has seen in 2014 were imported, according to the agency.

Among them, five each were infected in China and the Philippines, with the remaining cases imported from Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam, it said.

Travelers to affected countries should pay attention to personal hygiene and seek medical treatment if they develop symptoms such as fever, nasal inflammation or rash, the CDC said.

The measles virus infects the respiratory system, immune system and skin. Symptoms usually occur seven to 14 days after exposure to an infected person.

Most people without immunity to the virus will catch it if they share living space with an infected person and come in contact with fluids from an infected person's nose and mouth, either directly or through the air. But widespread vaccination, especially at a young age, has made measles largely uncommon in developed countries.

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