The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that measles cases have continued to climb in 2019, with reported cases in the first three months of 2019 nearly 300% higher versus the same period last year.
Measles is a highly contagious disease, and has the potential to be severe, even deadly.
Sustained increases in measles cases are on the rise worldwide, and many countries are in the midst of sizeable outbreaks, causing many deaths, mostly among young children.
Countries in the midst of measles outbreaks include Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine.
The WHO said that while the data is provisional, and not yet complete, it shows a clear trend.
According to the data, in 2019 so far, 170 countries have reported 112 163 measles cases – while after three months in 2018, only 28 124 cases had been reported, in 163 countries – almost a 300% increase.
Africa has seen the biggest increase – 700%, Europe has increased by 300%, the Eastern Mediterranean region 100%, the Americas 60%, and 40% increases in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.
Measles is almost entirely preventable, through two doses of a vaccine, which the WHO describes as safe and effective.