Cases of measles have spiked by 31 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the joint report of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Reported cases of measles last year ballooned to 173,330, although, this figure is way below the distressing 853,479 in 2000. An estimated 110,000 people, the majority of whom are children, died because of the infectious disease. The report further said that it is a "deeply concerning" trend.
Specifically, Europe, the Americas, and the Eastern Mediterranean region recorded the highest increase in the cases of measles. This fact echoes earlier findings of WHO Europe that the continent just reached a record high since the 90s.
Different Causes Of Measles Increase
While the surge was observed globally, the causes varied per region. In Europe, the organizations slightly pointed fingers at parents who shun immunization and the pretense that vaccines allegedly cause autism.
Martin Friede, WHO director of immunization, slapped anti-vax group that spreads meritless claims, thereby drastically affecting parents' decision-making. Complacency also played a factor for the surge in cases of measles.
In Latin America, meanwhile, the blame is on the failing health system in Venezuela, which is currently under economic pressure. This caused some of the health centers to halt operations.
"Existing strategies need to change: more effort needs to go into increasing routine immunization coverage and strengthening health systems. Otherwise we will continue chasing one outbreak after another," said Seth Berkley, CEO of Vaccine Alliance.
Vaccination For Measles
Measles is a highly contagious disease that is characterized by high fever, cough, severe rashes, and sometimes, inflamed eyes. Its complications include blindness, dehydration, and diarrhea that may ultimately lead to the demise of the patient. Those with weak immune systems, especially children and infants, are susceptible to the disease.
Two doses of vaccines are advised to prevent the disease. For the past seven years, it has helped ward off about 21.1 million deaths.
In the same timeframe, coverage for the first dose of vaccine inclined from 72 percent to 85 percent. However, it is still far from what the health officials aim for, which is at least 95 percent of the population. The second dose is at 67 percent from 15 percent in 2000.