Many have speculated, but now a top federal health official is confirming that the outbreak of measles traced to several Disney theme parks was likely caused by a foreign visitor or an American who had recently returned from a trip outside the country.

For weeks authorities have been tracing cases of measles that have turned up in several western states. The one common factor in most cases was that sufferers attended one of several Disney theme parks in California or were close to someone who did.

Some had speculated that the measles had come from an illegal immigrant or foreign visitor and now a health official is confirming the likelihood of that speculation.

“We don’t know exactly how this outbreak started but we do think it was likely a person infected with measles overseas,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

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