According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have already been 112,000 reported cases of measles worldwide in 2019 alone. This marks an increase of 300% over 2018 when only 28,000 measles cases were reported by this time.
Where Is the Measles Outbreak Happening?
In their official statement, WHO outlined the terrifying scope of the measles outbreaks that are occurring throughout the world.
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“Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases,” WHO says. “Current outbreaks include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, causing many deaths – mostly among young children.”
“Over recent months, spikes in case numbers have also occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States of America as well as Israel, Thailand, and Tunisia, as the disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.”
– World Health Organization
In the United States, 555 measles cases have already been reported this year, making it the second-worst year for measles in 25 years. That statistic gets worse when you remember we’re only three-and-a-half months into 2019.
What Is Measles?
Measles is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection. An infected person could cough in a room, and hours later a person who enters that room could become infected. It is most likely to affect malnourished children, but adults are also susceptible.
According to WHO, measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases. It caused 110,000 deaths in 2017 alone, and that number is expected to rise as outbreaks worsen. The organization adds that the measles vaccine, administered in two doses, is entirely safe and effective, but that the number of people opting to get the vaccine has been dropping.
Why Is This Happening?
In order to prevent outbreaks like the ones we’re seeing, 95 percent of the population must take the vaccine. But the percentage of people taking the first dose has stalled at just 85 percent in recent years.
One theory as to why the number of people vaccinating against measles has dropped? The rise in anti-vaccination ideology and the spread of misinformation about both the viral infection and the vaccine.
As the number of reported cases continues to grow, it is important to make sure you and your family are safe. Visit WHO’s website for more information.
And after reading this not-so-great news, check out this cute video to improve your outlook on life.
Matt is a writer, editor, and content strategist currently based in Washington state. He has worked as a managing editor for the iconic I Can Has Cheezburger, Celebuzz (a SpinMedia site), and now Mamas Uncut. He also acted as the Social Media Director for CafeMom.