Measles up 300 per cent worldwide

Measles has resurfaced in some countries due to falls in vaccine coverage and weak health care systems.

Measles cases are up 300 per cent globally in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year, says Unicef, with 110,000 confirmed reports.

In the first six months of last year Europe had 41,000 cases of measles, double the total of the previous year. In 2017, 110,000 people died from measles worldwide.

Nearly 170 million children in the world under the age of 10 – including half a million in the UK and 2.5 million in the US – are unprotected from measles, Unicef warns.

“The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child, in rich and poor countries alike,” said Henrietta Fore, Unicef executive director.

Unicef says the situation is critical in low- and middle-income countries. In 2017, Nigeria had the highest number of children under the age of one who missed out on the vaccine, at nearly 4 million. It was followed by India (2.9 million), Pakistan and Indonesia (1.2 million each), and Ethiopia (1.1 million).

Australia was declared free of measles in 2014. Yet, this summer there have been nine cases of measles in NSW and others in other states.

Australia has an all-time high vaccine coverage with 94.5 per cent of five-year-old children fully immunised at the end of 2017.