Incidence of measles reaches 23-year high


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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The number of cases of measles reached a 23-year high last year, according to new figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A new report from the WHO and CDC shows that cases of measles surged worldwide in 2019 reaching the highest number of reported cases in 23 years. Cases worldwide increased to 869,770 in 2019, the highest number since 1996, with increases in all WHO regions. Global measles deaths climbed nearly 50 per cent since 2016, claiming an estimated 207,500 lives in 2019 alone.

The authors cite a failure to vaccinate children on time with two doses of measles-containing vaccines (MCV1 and MCV2) as the main driver of these increases in cases and deaths.

MCV1 coverage has been stagnant globally for more than a decade at about 85 per cent. MCV2 coverage has steadily increased but is only 71 per cent.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “These data send a clear message that we are failing to protect children from measles in every region of the world. We must collectively work to support countries and engage communities to reach everyone, everywhere with measles vaccine and stop this deadly virus.”