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China adoptions suspension call

Americans have been fueling an adoption boom in China.

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• Measles warning for China flights
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
World Health Organization (WHO)

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- U.S. federal disease experts have called for adoptions of children from one Chinese orphanage to be suspended because of a measles outbreak.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday cited six confirmed and three suspected cases of the highly contagious disease among children who were adopted in China.

A preliminary investigation traced the outbreak to a single orphanage there, the CDC said in a written statement.

"While control measures are being implemented, CDC recommends that adoption proceedings of children from the affected orphanage be suspended temporarily," the statement said.

The orphanage is the ZhuZhou Child Welfare Institute in Hunan Province.

The adopted children were taken March 26 from China to the United States.

Four of the children were likely infectious during their trip, the statement said. The specific flights are posted on the CDC's Web site.

On April 6, health officials in Seattle and King County, Wash., reported a laboratory-confirmed case of measles in a recently adopted child from China.

An investigation identified measles-like rash in nine of 12 children adopted from China in March.

Six of the nine have confirmed cases.

"Adopting children is such a wonderful experience for so many people," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding in the statement.

"To make this experience as safe and healthy as possible for everyone, we ask prospective parents traveling internationally to adopt children to ensure that their and their family members' immunizations are current."

The incubation period for measles ranges from one to three weeks.

CDC said it is collaborating with the Chinese Ministry of Health and the Central China Adoption Agency "to initiate measures to control and prevent further spread of measles among adopted children."

A similar outbreak of measles among adoptees in China occurred in 2001, when an outbreak among children adopted abroad caused 14 U.S. measles cases, 10 among adopted children and four among caregivers and siblings.

People traveling abroad to adopt children and their household contacts should ensure that they either have had measles or been vaccinated.

Measles is a common and often fatal disease in developing countries.

The World Health Organization estimates that in 2001, 30 million to 40 million measles cases -- 745,000 of them fatal -- occurred worldwide. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death in measles patients.

Since 1993, fewer than 500 cases have been reported each year in the United States. A record low of 44 cases was reported in 2002, the CDC said.

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