Measles, also known as rubeola, is a highly contagious viral infection that commonly infects children. The infection was once quite common but is now preventable through the use of vaccines. Despite the availability of vaccines, measles remains a major cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were approximately 110,000 measles-related deaths in 2017, most of whom were children under the age of five years. WHO also, from time to time, collect reports from member countries on suspected and confirmed cases of measles. However, not all cases are reported. As such, the available data does not reflect the true number of cases. Here are some of the countries with the highest measles cases in the world.
Countries with the Highest Measles Cases
According to WHO, the island country of Madagascar off the southern coast of Africa reported the highest number of measles cases in the world in 2019. The country first experienced a measles outbreak in 2003 and 2004 when about 100,000 cases were reported. Since then, the number of cases declined until the recent outbreak in 2019. Some 127,540 new measles cases were reported in the country during the year, with the epidemic killing close to 1,200 people. Most cases were reported from Boeny and Analamanga regions. Children aged below 15 years accounted for 64% of the cases reported. The high number of measles cases reported in Madagascar is a result of poor vaccine coverage caused by a lack of access to health resources.
Measles cases around the globe continue to spread with Ukraine among the countries with the highest reported numbers. The country recorded the highest level of measles cases in the first nine months of 2019 since 2016. During the period, the country reported about 56,802 measles cases, with the highest number (13,760) reported in January. Since then the reported cases have been in the decline with only 372 cases reported in September. Lack of political commitment to vaccination and corruption have been blamed for the high measles cases in Ukraine.
Measles is a major cause of mortality and morbidity among children in India. Although the proportion of measles cases is very low compared to the total population, the cases are still some of the highest in the world. India reported about 54,900 measles cases in the first nine months of 2019. However, the cases have significantly reduced compared to 2018 when it reported close to 110,000 cases. The reduction in the number of measles cases in the country is as a result of the countrywide vaccine campaign
Measles outbreak began in the Philippines in early 2019, with about 6,000 cases reported in January. rAlthough the reported cases reduced in February and March, more measles cases were reported in the following months. By September 2019, a total of 42,600 cases had been reported. The measles outbreak in the Philippines was attributed to a lower rate of vaccination as a result of the Dengvaxia controversy.
Symptoms of Measles
One of the early signs of measles is high fever which starts about 10 days after contracting the virus. The fever may last for 4-7 days. Other symptoms in the initial stages include running nose, small white spots on the cheeks, watery eyes, and a cough. Rashes erupt in the face and neck and spread to the hands and feet and may last for 5-6 days.