Measles cases nearly tripled globally during the first seven months of the year compared to the same period in 2018, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, amid growing concern over public resistance to the vaccine.
So far this year, 364,808 measles cases were reported around the world, compared to 129,239 cases during the first seven months a year earlier.
These numbers are “the highest (registered) since 2006,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva.
The numbers are especially worrying since only about one in 10 actual measles cases are believed to be reported worldwide, according to WHO.
Measles, which is highly contagious, can be entirely prevented through a two-dose vaccine, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has in recent months sounded the alarm over slipping vaccination rates.
Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Ukraine registered the highest number of cases, WHO said.
In Madagascar, which registered around 127,500 cases during the first half of this year alone, numbers have meanwhile dropped considerably in recent months following an emergency national vaccination campaign, the UN health agency stressed.
Measles cases have soared worldwide, with the African region seeing a 900-percent jump in cases year-on-year, while cases rose 230 percent in the western Pacific.
Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sudan, South Sudan and Thailand have all seen major outbreaks of the disease.
The United States has meanwhile registered 1,164 cases so far this year, compared to 372 for all of 2018 and the highest number on record in a quarter century.
And in the European region, nearly 90,000 cases have been registered this year — well above the 84,462 cases registered last year.
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.
But the so-called anti-vax movement — driven by fraudulent claims linking the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, and a risk of autism in children — has gained traction.
WHO pointed out that the reasons for people not being vaccinated vary significantly between communities and countries, with a lack of access to quality healthcare or vaccination services hindering some from getting the jabs, while others are led astray by “misinformation about vaccines, or low awareness about the need to vaccinate.”
The measles vaccine is a “safe and highly effective vaccine”, WHO stressed in a statement, urging “everyone to ensure their measles vaccinations are up to date.”
Desperate Trump looking for a Dem senator to vote to acquit him in effort to soften blow of impeachment
According to a report from the Washington Post, President Donald Trump is hoping to find at least one Democrat who will vote to acquit him as Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempts to wrap the president's impeachment trial up as quickly as possible.
The report notes that the President has targetted Sen. Joe Manchin (R-WV) as a likely candidate and the White House focus behind the scenes is the hope they can count on his one vote that would give the anticipated acquittal a partisan sheen.
California confirms third case of China virus in US
A patient in California's Orange County was Saturday confirmed as the third person on US soil infected with the new deadly virus that originated in China, health officials said.
The infected person was a traveler from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the outbreak, the Orange County Health Care Agency said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the patient had tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus, it said.
The individual was in isolation in a local hospital and was in good condition.
"There is no evidence that person-to-person transmission has occurred in Orange County. The current risk of local transmission remains low," the health care agency said.
Japan will evacuate nationals from China virus city: Prime Minister Abe
Japan will evacuate all its nationals from China's quarantined city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a deadly virus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday.
"We have decided to send back all (Japanese citizens in Wuhan) to Japan if they wish so, by every means including a chartered flight," Abe told reporters.
"We are coordinating with the Chinese government at various levels, and we will accelerate the process to realise a swift implementation" of the evacuation from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, Abe said.
Earlier, a foreign ministry official told AFP that 430 Japanese were in Hubei province.