GENEVA – Cases of measles rose 300 percent worldwide in the first three months of 2019 compared with the same period last year, the UN said on Monday (April 15), as concern grew about the impact of anti-stigma vaccine.
Measles, which is highly contagious, can be completely prevented by using a two-dimensional vaccine, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has in recent months sounded an alarm across the global vaccination rates.
"Preliminary global data show that reported cases rose by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. This follows successive increases in the last two years," the statement said.
"While these data are temporary and not yet complete, they indicate a clear trend, many countries are in the midst of large measles outbreaks, with all regions experiencing a continuous increase in cases," the World Health Organization said.
The agency noted that only about one in 10 cases of measles actually reported, ie the early trends of 2019 are likely to underestimate the severity of the outbreaks.
A higher rate of the disease – which can kill a child or leave him blind, deaf or damaged in the brain – were recorded in all regions, the UN agency.
Fresh outbreaks hit the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, "which caused many deaths – especially among young children," said the Health Organization World.
So far this year, 170 countries have reported 112,163 cases of measles to the World Health Organization. As of last year, 163 countries reported 28,124 cases.
"In recent months there have also been cases in which there has been an increase in cases of vaccinations including the United States, as well as Israel, Thailand and Tunisia, as the disease spread rapidly among clusters of people without liver disease" WHO statement.
US federal health officials said Monday that the number of confirmed cases of measles in the United States jumped by nearly 20 percent in the week ending April 11, the second-largest outbreak in nearly two decades.
The growing margins of parents in the United States are opposed to measles vaccines in faith, contrary to scientific evidence that vaccines can cause autism or other disorders.
The mayor of New York declared a health emergency in parts of Brooklyn last week after measles erupted in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where several religious vaccines were opposed.
The World Health Organization said the most dramatic increase in cases – a 700% increase over last year – was reported in Africa, which has a weaker vaccination coverage than other regions.
Increasing immunization coverage increases the protection of the population, said the World Health Organization.
Global coverage with the first dose was "stopped" by 85 percent, compared to 95 percent needed to prevent outbreaks, while 25 countries still do not include additional doses in their national programs.