Measles resurgence ‘due to vaccine hesitancy’, WHO warns

22 February, 2019 12:00 AM printer

There has been a worldwide resurgence of measles, with many countries experiencing "severe and protracted" outbreaks last year, a report warns. The World Health Organization data shows a rise in cases in almost every region of the world, with 30% more cases in 2017 than 2016.

Experts say complacency, collapsing health systems and a rise in fake news about the vaccine are behind the rise. They say the measles vaccines can save millions of lives. Measles is a highly contagious disease that in severe cases can lead to complications such as blindness, pneumonia and infection and swelling of the brain. The report, put together by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at measles cases over the past 17 years.

Experts say this is the first year there has been a sustained increase in cases, with 110,000 measles-related deaths. And they are concerned that trends for 2018 are similar after cases reached a high in Europe in the summer. The Americas, Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region saw the greatest upsurge in cases. The Western Pacific region was the only area to see a decline. A large number of infections were seen in Venezuela, as health systems collapsed after political and economic crises. The country had previously eliminated the disease.

And there are now concerns that as more people move between countries in the region, the disease could continue to spread. Meanwhile the Ukraine, Italy, France, Germany and Greece all saw an increase in cases in the past few years.   — BBC