25 Countries Where Measles Is a Serious Problem

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A recent measles outbreak across Europe and higher than usual reported cases in the United States have gotten people on edge. There have been 137 cases so far in 2018, compared to 120 in all of last year.

Measles is one of the most contagious viral diseases in existence. About 4 million cases were reported every year until a vaccine was introduced in 1963; after that there were about 500,000 cases a year. Overall, numbers have gone down as vaccination has become common or, in some countries, mandatory. Immunization has resulted in an 84% drop in deaths from the infection between 2000 and 2016 worldwide. In the United States the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella is required for children attending public schools.

While the benefits of immunizations are very well established, there is a growing movement in America and across the world against vaccinations. Numerous studies, including recent research published in the journal PLOS Medicine, have found a higher prevalence of infections in urban areas that allow for nonmedical exemptions — rules that permit parents not to vaccinate their kids based on their beliefs.

Another name for measles is rubeola or morbili. Symptoms include fever, dry cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. A rash that includes flat blotches appear on the skin. There is no specific treatment. The mortality rate is 1 to 2 per 1,000 cases. The incubation period ranges from seven to 21 days.

To determine the countries where measles is currently a big public health problem, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of confirmed measles cases between 2011 and August 2018 from the World Health Organization (WHO). Data in 2018 is being updated as more information becomes available. The countries on the list are ranked based on the percentage increase in diagnoses over the last two years. In order to qualify, the countries had to have at least 150 confirmed cases of measles so far in 2018. For the purposes of this list, measles cases are defined as laboratory confirmed, epidemiologically linked, and clinical cases as reported to the WHO. An outbreak is defined as three or more linked cases, according to the CDC.

Click here to see the 25 countries where measles is a serious problem.