The World Health Organization has warned of a “dramatic resurgence” in measles with over 90,000 cases in 48 countries over the first six months of 2019.
The head of WHO’s European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (MMR), Gunter Pfaff, is calling for increased vaccination efforts and an effort to counter disinformation campaigns about the safety of vaccines.
Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Russia accounted for 78% of all cases, with 60% of the cases in Ukraine alone. Meanwhile, the UK, Albania, the Czech Republic and Greece lost their “measles-free” status.
In the first half of 2019, the global number of cases tripled to 364,808, although the WHO believes that nine in 10 cases go unrecorded.
Measles is considered endemic in 12 countries, including France and Germany. It is a highly contagious airborne infection that causes fever, coughing and rashes and, in certain instances, can lead to death. The virus spreads among school-age children, especially if their parents are exposed to anti-vaccination propaganda.
The anti-vaccination movement claims, without scientific evidence, that an MMR vaccine increases the risk of autism in children.
More than 109,000 people died of measles in 2017.