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Global measles outbreak warning

Tuesday April 16th, 2019

Rates of measles have quadrupled this year globally, including in Europe, the World Health Organisation has warned.

Countries around the world are facing "sizeable" outbreaks of the disease, according to a WHO analysis of the problem.

The USA – the centre of vociferous anti-vaccination campaigning – is facing a sudden surge in cases as are countries such as Israel, Thailand and Tunisia, WHO said.

Some countries have already been subject to emergency programmes of vaccination, including Madagascar, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo – with success reported already in reducing rates in Madagascar.

In Africa cases have increased by eight times and in Europe by four times, according to the WHO analysis of the latest surveillance data.

There have been 60% increases in the Americas and 40% increases in south-east Asia and the Western Pacific.

WHO said that this time last year it had received reports of 28,124 cases from 163 countries. This year some 112,163 cases have been reported in 170 countries.

WHO warned: "Measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases, with the potential to be extremely severe. In 2017, the most recent year for which estimates are available, it caused close to 110,000 deaths.

"Even in high-income countries, complications result in hospitalisation in up to a quarter of cases, and can lead to lifelong disability, from brain damage and blindness to hearing loss."

A statement added: "The disease is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine."

It went on: "Effective public-facing communication and engagement on the critical importance of vaccination, and the dangers of the diseases they prevent."

Tags: Africa | Asia | Flu & Viruses | North America | World Health

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