Global measles cases tripled in 2019, the World Health Organization says

Henrietta Brewer
June 3, 2019

Australia has also been hit.

Currently, the 2019 tally is the highest since an outbreak in 2014 that saw 667 cases.

Although it is possible to get the measles even if you've been vaccinated, it's quite rare: Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine - which are given as part of the standard USA childhood vaccination schedule - are 97% effective at preventing measles, according to the CDC.

The UN body said provisional data indicated a "a clear trend", with all regions of the world seeing outbreaks. "Many countries are in the midst of sizable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases", the WHO said.

The agency noted that only about one in 10 actual measles cases were reported, meaning the early trends for 2019 were likely to underestimate the severity of the outbreaks.

This year, there have been 112,163 measles cases reported in 170 countries.


Measles first became a notable disease in the United States in 1921, requiring US health care providers and laboratories to report all diagnosed cases.

Measles - an airborne infection causing fever, coughing and rashes that can be deadly in rare cases - had been officially eliminated in many countries with advanced healthcare systems.

While social media platforms like Facebook assured action against anti-vaccine posts, governments are being urged to include the second dose of measles, mumps, and Rubella (MMR) during immunization drives.

Repeated studies - the most recent involving more than 650,000 children monitored for more than a decade - have shown that there is no such link.

Even in places with high vaccination coverage, like the USA and Thailand, there has been an increased number of cases.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can spread through the air from person to person, so people in small spaces with poor ventilation, such as an airplane cabin, with an infected person could be infected, even without direct interaction, he added.


A public health emergency has also been declared in areas of NY, ordering all residents to be vaccinated or face a fine.

Calls have mounted in several countries to make measles vaccinations mandatory, including in Germany. Australia earlier this month launched a major education campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

Coverage of the second vaccine dose needs to increase globally, to maximize a population's protection against the disease. World Health Organization says its Africa region had the biggest rise in cases in the last three months compared with the same time past year - a 700% increase. But poor regions remain worst affected, African countries witnessed the most dramatic rise of almost 700 percent, the data released by the United Nations agency said.

Since September, more than 800 people have died in Madagascar from measles alone.

Now, there have been 555 cases of the once-eradicated disease in 2019, and le latest increase is the largest surge in cases seen in the ongoing outbreak yet.


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