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Saturday, August 24th, 2019

There Has Been a 300% Increase in Measles Cases This Year

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It is not usual that the heads of UNICEF and the World Health Organization would team up to jointly warn the world about a fast spreading disease that stalks children. But a sudden surge in measles cases in the first three months of 2019 is also unprecedented.

On April 16, the World Health Organization released the latest global surveillance data on measles, saying that all regions of the world are experiencing sustained rises in cases. Current outbreaks include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, causing many deaths � mostly among young children.

What is most disturbing is that spikes in cases are occurring in countries with overall high vaccination coverage, including the United States, Israel, Thailand and Tunisia.

Measles is a global health success story

Measles has plagued humans�particularly children � for centuries. It is a fast spreading disease that can both sicken and kill people, mostly children under five years old. Before widespread measles use of the measles vaccine in the mid 1960s, epidemics would occur every few years, killing an estimated 2.6 million people every year. By 2000 the death toll from measles was around 560,000 children per year. And by 2017, the last year for which we have reliable data, approximately 110,000 people died from measles � an 80% decline. The trajectory was clearly going in the right direction, thanks to greater vaccine coverage � particularly in sub-saharan Africa where most deaths occur.

But these gains are now suddenly looking more fragile and the nature of the measles virus suggests that anything less than near universal vaccination means that these outbreaks will continue to occur.

Source: UN Dispatch

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