By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A total of 107 cases of measles have been confirmed in California, more than a third of them linked to an outbreak that began in Disneyland in late December, state health officials said on Monday.
More than three dozen additional cases of the highly infectious disease have been reported in 19 other states and in Mexico, including three new cases diagnosed in Cook County, Illinois. Seven of the eight cases so far found in Cook County are associated with a daycare center in the city of Palatine.
Georgia health officials reported that an infant arriving in Atlanta from outside the United States was confirmed to have measles, marking the state's first reported case of the disease since 2012.
The Georgia case is unrelated to a California outbreak that health officials believe began with a person from outside the United States who visited the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim in late December.
Georgia health officials are working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify anyone who may have been exposed to measles from the infant, the Georgia Department of Public Health said.
According to the California Department of Public Health, 39 of the state's 107 confirmed cases have been linked to the Disneyland cluster.
The measles outbreak has renewed a debate over the so-called anti-vaccination movement in which fears about potential side effects of vaccines, fueled by now-debunked research suggesting a link to autism, have led a small minority of parents to refuse to allow their children to be inoculated.
Some parents also opt not to have their children vaccinated for religious or other reasons.
Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 after decades of intensive childhood vaccine efforts. But last year, the country had its highest number of measles cases in two decades.
Most people recover from measles within a few weeks, although it can be fatal in some cases.
(Reporting by David Beasley in Georgia, Mary Wisniewski in Chicago and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney)