Measles cases worldwide have increased 300 per cent so far in 2019, compared to last year, the latest data from the world’s leading health body says.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released the provisional data this week, as all corners of the globe are swept up in almost unprecedented outbreaks of the potentially fatal disease.
Australia has had 47 confirmed measles cases in the past six months: 35 in New South Wales and 12 in Queensland, prompting health agencies to urge people to check their vaccination status.
Health authorities have further implored for Australians travelling overseas to ensure they’re vaccinated, as that is where the majority of the country’s cases have stemmed from.
Globally, there have been 112,163 measles cases so far this year, with fresh outbreaks hitting the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine.
The outbreaks have caused “many deaths”, according to WHO – and most of them have been children. Definite fatality numbers were not released.
The disease also has the capacity to leave an infected child blind, deaf or brain damaged.
In the US, New York counties have banned unvaccinated children from playing in public areas, and New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio has declared the situation a public health emergency, and ordered all unvaccinated residents of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to immediately receive the vaccine – or face a $US1000 fine.
The majority of cases in the city have come from unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities, as a growing number of anti-vax parents refuse to vaccinate their children.