Published: Wed, April 17, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Measles cases rise by 300 percent as anti-vaccination campaigns spread

Measles cases rise by 300 percent as anti-vaccination campaigns spread

The World Health Organization said Monday there were more than 110,000 measles cases worldwide for the first three months of 2019 - an increase of almost 300 percent over past year.

Higher rates of the preventable but contagious disease have been recorded in all regions, the United Nations agency said in a statement, appealing for better vaccination coverage.

The UN body said provisional data indicated a "a clear trend", with all regions of the world seeing outbreaks.

The number of cases just three and a half months into 2019 is far greater than many previous years: there were 372 cases in all of 2018, 120 cases in 2017, and 86 cases in 2016. Of those, 229 were reported this year, accounting for more than one-third of the 555 cases that have been reported nationwide in 2019, as of April 11, according to figures updated Monday by the CDC. But when an global traveler exposed to measles overseas brings the disease into the country, pockets of unvaccinated communities within the US enable the disease to spread. Numerous cases in the 2014 were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines, which experienced a large measles outbreak.

Increasing vaccination coverage maximises a population's protection, the World Health Organization said.

The New York City Health Department has closed a child care program amid the city's measles outbreak in Orthodox Jewish communities.

The vaccine that protects against measles is the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

A child brought the virus back from Ukraine in December and it spread to 74 other people, mostly children, through schools, supermarkets and a bowling alley. "All 38 other cases of measles in Southeast Michigan can be linked to this individual", she said. The country is facing its larges measles outbreak in history.

While WHO has identified the junk science behind anti-vax propaganda as a public health threat, the data highlighted that measles still hits hardest in unstable countries with weak health systems.

Since 2000, only 2014 saw more cases (667) by this point of the year.

Two weeks ago a state Supreme Court judge halted an emergency order in Rockland County that barred unvaccinated children against the measles from schools and all public areas, saying the 166 cases cited by the county did not rise to the level of an epidemic or constitute a disaster. Africa saw a 700-percent increase compared to past year. "We have the opportunity now to prevent so many life threatening diseases and have saved countless lives through immunization". This one case led to 167 Australian cases during the eight months that followed, largely in southwest Sydney.

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