WHO cites spike in global measles cases | News | DW | 27.11.2019
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WHO cites spike in global measles cases

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a sharp rise in global measles cases compared to last year. Though the deadly illness is easily prevented, a lack of immunization is allowing it to spread.

The United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday released an update on global measles cases, noting a spike in the number of cases confirmed.

The report said some 440,200 cases had been reported as of November 5, topping the 350,000 cases reported in 2018. The deadly illness, which can be easily prevented with vaccinations, is spreading in every corner of the world.

Read more: Why measles is so deadly and vaccination so important

DRC posts huge numbers

The most shocking numbers were posted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which registered a total of 250,270 cases on November 17, an increase of 8,000 cases over the week prior. Some 5,110 measles-related deaths were registered in the DRC.

"The DRC outbreak is the largest outbreak worldwide. It is one of the largest that we have seen," according to Kate O'Brien, director of the WHO's immunization department.

Elsewhere in Africa, Chad reported 25,596 cases as of November 17, affecting 94% of the country's districts. Whereas the DRC is currently issuing vaccinations, Chad has yet to do so.

Touches every corner of the world

In the Americas, Brazil listed 11,887 cases, most of which were reported in Sao Paulo. Two outbreaks in New York state in the US have been declared over, though the WHO says other outbreaks are occurring throughout the country.

In Europe, Ukraine far outpaced other countries, reporting some 56,802 cases.

The WHO update noted that despite routine immunization "measles continues to circulate globally due to sub-optimal vaccination coverage and population immunity gaps."

Anti-vaccination campaign leads to sharp rise in deaths

The organization also noted a sharp rise in the number of measles-related deaths in the island nation of Samoa.

The WHO blamed a steep decline in immunizations, based on an anti-vaccination campaign, for paving the way for a "huge outbreak."

Measles immunizations were stopped for several months and public distrust was heightened following the deaths of two babies shortly after receiving their shots last year. Investigations revealed the vaccine was prepared for injection incorrectly.

Some 2,500 measles cases have been reported in the nation of 200,000. The WHO reports that 37 people have now died from measles in Samoa.

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