Geneva (dpa) - In the first half of 2019, there was the highest number of reported measles cases in the world since 2006 over the same period.
According to preliminary figures, nearly 365,000 cases of measles were registered in 182 countries by the end of July, almost three times as many as in the same period last year and more than in 2018 as a whole, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. "Millions of people worldwide are at risk," the WHO reported. She recommends travelers to check their vaccination status. From the age of six months, everyone should be vaccinated at least 15 days before traveling to affected areas.
In 2018, more than 350,000 cases of measles were reported worldwide, more than twice as many as in the previous year. However, WHO emphasizes that only a fraction of actual illnesses are reported. The latest WHO estimates of true numbers refer to 2017. At that time, probably 6.7 million people had measles and 110,000 died. By 2016, measles numbers worldwide were on the decline.
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. Most affected are children. Survivors could suffer brain damage or become blind and deaf. The WHO demands more vaccinations. The Federal Cabinet has initiated a law for measles vaccination in Germany. As of March 2020, parents need to prove that they have been vaccinated before taking their children to a day care center or school. The Bundestag still has to agree.
In the WHO Africa region, the number of reported cases increased by 900 percent in the first six months compared to the same period of the previous year, and by 230 percent in the Western Pacific region, according to the WHO. In the Europe region, it rose by 120 percent. In addition to the EU, the region includes Russia, Turkey, Israel and the Asian countries of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
In Germany, the trend was down in the past year: after almost 930 measles cases in 2017, according to the Robert Koch Institute in 2018 about 540 cases were reported. Several states have reported more measles cases this year than in the same period last year.