Some 82,596 people in 47 of 53 countries contracted measles, the highest number this decade and three times the figure in 2017. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a person has measles, 90 per cent of those in proximity will also contract the virus unless they have been vaccinated or are immune. The latest outbreak of measles started in an anti-vaccination hotspot where only 78 percent of the kindergarten through high school population had gotten their shots.
It is also 15 times a record low recorded in 2016.
While the U.S. faces measles outbreaks from NY to Washington state, reigniting discussions about the risk of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, Madagascar has been fighting the worst eruption of the disease in decades.
While vaccination rates are improving, the World Health Organization says coverage is not high enough to prevent circulation of the virus in many countries. In a statement, Jay Inslee-Washington's Governor-stated that measles is an extremely contagious transferable disease that can be deadly in small children.
The surge in measles cases in 2018 followed a year in which the European Region achieved its highest ever estimated coverage for the second dose of measles vaccination (90% in 2017).
"(Immunisation) gaps at local level still offer an open door to the virus", said the WHO's European director, Zsuzsanna Jakab.
Orders for two types of measles vaccines in Clark County were up almost 500 percent in January compared to the same month previous year, jumping from 530 doses to 3,150, according to state health department figures.
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Some 95% of children received the first dose of the vaccine.
"We can not achieve healthier populations globally, as promised in WHO's vision for the coming five years, if we do not work locally". It can be prevented by the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine...
"Progress has been uneven between and within countries, leaving increasing clusters of susceptible individuals unprotected, and resulting in a record number of people affected by the virus in 2018", it said.
Heidi Larson, a specialist in vaccines and public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the increase in cases was a "wake-up call" on the importance of building confidence in vaccination.
There was also a five-fold rise in measles cases in the United Kingdom in 2018.
Canada could experience the same type of measles outbreaks that Washington and NY states are now facing because of low vaccination rates and the highly contagious nature of the virus, public health experts warn.