Worldwide Measles Spotlight

Worldwide Measles Spotlight: April 15, 2019

112,163 measles cases reported by 170 countries during 2019

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According to various news agencies, world governments, and the World Health Organization (WHO), measles epidemics continue to be reported during 2019. 

As of April 15, 2019, 170 countries reported 112,163 measles cases in 2019, said the WHO in a statement. 

This preliminary global reported data shows measles cases increased by 300 percent in the first quarter of 2019, compared with 28,124 measles cases from 163 countries during 2018. 

The leading countries reporting measles epidemics as of April 15, 2019, are as follows: 

  • Madagascar: During 2019, 46,178 measles cases have been confirmed. And, over 1,200 people, predominately children, have died on the island since October 2018, while a further 115,000 more are still infected with the disease, the AP reports. Only 58 percent of people on Madagascar’s main island have been vaccinated against measles. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on March 29, 2019, Americans visiting Madagascar should be measles immunized.
  • Philippines: Between January and April 5, 2019, 28,362 measles cases, including 389 deaths were officially reported, and 90 percent of cases have no documented vaccination status. Over 3,890,000 doses of the MMR vaccine have been given to children aged under 5 years. On March 11, 2019, the CDC updated its Level 1 Travel Alert regarding this measles outbreak.
  • Ukraine: The WHO says Ukraine has reported 25,319 measles cases during 2019. Authorities said vaccine shortages in previous years were the main reason behind the current outbreak. And, the CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert regarding measles outbreaks in Ukraine during 2019.

Previously, during February 2019, the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) found 24 member countries reported 1,082 measles cases. The most notable increases were reported in France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Ireland:

  • France reported 188 cases in February, compared with 125 in January and 54 in December.
  • Poland reported 178 cases in February, compared with 123 in January and 114 in December.
  • The Czech Republic reported 115 cases in February, compared with 47 in January and 19 in December.
  • Belgium reported 90 cases in February, compared with 20 in January and seven in December.
  • Bulgaria reported 51 cases in February, compared with zero in January and zero in December.
  • Ireland reported 18 cases in February, compared with two in January and zero in December.

According to the CDC, measles is often brought into the USA by unvaccinated people who become infected abroad.

These international travelers then spread measles upon their return, which cause outbreaks in the USA, such as in New Jersey, New York, Michigan, and Washington.   

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From January 1 to April 11, 2019, 555 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 20 states. This is the 2nd greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. 

To notify international travelers, the CDC updated 17 country Travel Alerts, on March 11, 2019.

International travelers can request a pre-trip vaccine counseling appointment at Vax-Before-Travel. 

In the USA, there are 2 approved measles vaccines, MMR-II and ProQuad. And, measles vaccine discounts can be found at GoodRx.

Relevant Links:  CDC vaccination schedules, CDC vaccine price list, international travel alerts, and report vaccine side effects