WHO: Measles cases up worldwide from this time last year

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With more than 112,000 cases of measles reported by 170 countries so far this year, the world is seeing rising rates of a vaccine-preventable illness over last year, according to data released by the World Health Organization today. At this point last year, with just seven fewer countries providing data, a little more than 28,000 cases had been reported. With many measles cases going undiagnosed, untreated and unreported, as well as surveillance and recording challenges in resource-limited countries and lags in reporting times, the numbers released today represent only a fraction of the actual numbers of cases, WHO cautions.

With 72,408 reported cases, Ukraine shows the highest numbers over the last 12 months, while Madagascar, with 69,720 reported cases, showed the highest incidence per million people. With them, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Yemen, Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand and the Democratic Republic of Congo (home also to two outbreaks of Ebola in the last year, as well as the spread of other infectious diseases) make up the rest of the list of countries with the highest measles rates.

That list overlaps with that of countries showing stalled access in vaccine access and uptake in a report released jointly by WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year. The list also overlaps with the most frequently cited of those visited by U.S. residents who acquired the illness abroad and brought back the majority of measles cases reported in this country.

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