Measles cases in Europe tripled a year ago, World Health Organization says

It's so contagious that it can live in an air space for two hours.

Vaccination rates for measles, mumps and rubella in Ukraine fell sharply over a number of years during its conflict with Russian Federation, reaching 31% in 2016 - among the lowest in the world.

Europe had a record number of measles cases a year ago, in part due to a growing number of pockets where parents are refusing to vaccinate their children, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

Fever is followed by the onset of cough, runny nose, and/or eye inflammation.

Complications can include otitis media, pneumonia, encephalitis, seizures and death. Anyone born since 1978 who is unsure if they have received two doses of a measles containing vaccine, such as MMR, should speak with their GP. That is almost a 500 percent jump in orders from January past year, when the total was just 530. In Madagascar, officials say more than 50,000 people have been infected with measles in recent months and more than 300 people, mostly children, have died as a result.

While vaccination rates are improving, the World Health Organization says coverage is not high enough to prevent circulation of the virus in many countries. Three times as many people have gotten vaccinated in January - from 200 per day in 2018 to 600 per day in 2019.

Ukraine reported the highest number of measles cases previous year across Europe, while more than 90% of cases were in 10 countries, including France, Italy and Greece.

Measles infections in Europe hit a decade high in 2018, despite more children than ever before receiving vaccinations.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause hearing loss and brain disorders in children and, in severe cases, can kill.

Health clinics are scrambling to keep up with sudden demand, mostly among parents of children in Southwest Washington who had not been inoculated. Concern over the vaccine can be traced back to a 1998 paper by former doctor Andrew Wakefield, who falsely linked the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism.

Only two provinces, Ontario and New Brunswick, require children to have updated vaccination records in order to enter school.

But it's a snapshot of the scare an outbreak can cause, said Dr. Alan Melnick, the Clark County health officer overseeing the response. Orders for measles vaccine climbed 30 percent in Washington overall, from 12,140 doses in January last year to 15,780 doses in January of this year.

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