The number of global measles cases is already 300% higher than this time last year

Apr 17 2019, 7:00 am

Following yet another confirmed measles case in Metro Vancouver just thisthis week, and public health warnings after a confirmed case in Toronto, a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that Canada isn’t alone when it comes to an increase in cases.

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In fact, the WHO notes in its report that preliminary global data shows that reported cases rose by 300% in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

This, they said, follows consecutive increases over the past two years.

And while the WHO conceded that the dat in this report is “provisional and not yet complete,” they add that it indicates a “clear trend.”

In total, the WHO said it received 112,163 reports of measles cases from 170 countries, compared to 28,124 cases in 163 countries last year.

Of those cases, 33 have been reported from Canada, and of those, 25 cases were from BC – specifically connected to Metro Vancouver.

The WHO reported notable increases in the number of measles cases and outbreaks also include locations such as , Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine.

Many of these cases they added have resulted in death – especially amongst young children.

The report notes that while measles is s one of the world’s most contagious diseases, it is also almost “entirely preventable” through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.

However, global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85% for the past several years, the report said.

“This is still short of the 95% needed to prevent outbreaks, and leaves many people, in many communities, at risk. Second dose coverage, while increasing, stands at 67%.”

Even with these numbers, the WHO said the actual numbers of cases – captured in global estimates – will also be considerably higher than those reported.

This is because official number of cases of measles reported by WHO member states is only available by July the following year.

And while this provides a “strong indication”  of overall trends, monthly surveillance data is provisional and incomplete, as many countries – particularly those experiencing major outbreaks – are still reporting data.


Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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