In 2017, global cases of measles shot up 30 percent, according to the World Health Organization, and it can be explained entirely by poor vaccination rates.
More than 6.7 million people, mostly young children, caught measles in 2017, the WHO reported. And 110,000 died from the virus.
That’s way down from the half a million deaths in 2000, but the progress the world made toward eliminating measles through vaccines is being quickly reversed, the WHO said. It’s in part due to economic chaos in countries such as Venezuela or conflict and unrest in countries including Pakistan and Nigeria. But in other countries, such as Italy, anti-vaccine sentiment means more kids are going unvaccinated.
“The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving measles elimination,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, deputy director general for programs at WHO. “Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease.”