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Measles cases rose by 300% globally between January and March — WHO

By Chioma Obinna

United Nations, UN, yesterday said measles cases across the world rose by 300 per cent through the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, as concerns grow over declining vaccination.

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 global vaccination rates.

In a statement, WHO said preliminary global data which revealed 300 per cent increase follows consecutive increases over the past two years.

“While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend. Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases,” WHO further said.

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It further noted that only about 1 in 10 actual measles cases is reported, meaning the early trends for 2019 likely underestimate the severity of the outbreaks. So far this year, 170 countries have reported 112,163 measles cases to WHO.  At this time last year, 163 countries had reported 28,124 cases.

“Spikes in case numbers have also occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States.  The disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.”

WHO explained that the most dramatic rise in cases a 700-per cent increase compared to last year has been reported in Africa, which has weaker vaccination coverage than other regions.

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