WASHINGTON (AP) — New research further debunks any link between measles vaccine and autism, work that comes as the nation is experiencing a surge in measles cases fueled by children left unvaccinated.

Years of research with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, better known as MMR, have concluded that it doesn't cause autism. Still, some parents' fears persist, in part because of one 1998 British study that linked the vaccine with a subgroup of autistic children who also have serious gastrointestinal problems. That study reported that measles virus was lingering in the children's bowels.

Only now have researchers rigorously retested that finding, taking samples of youngsters' intestines to hunt for signs of the virus with the most modern genetic technology. There is no evidence that MMR plays any role, the international team — which included researchers who first raised the issue — reported Wednesday.