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World Health Organization figures from 2017 show a four-fold increase in outbreaks compared to the record low of 2016, with 21,315 cases reported along with 35 deaths while more than 100 cases were reported in one out of four countries across Europe. Despite being a developed country, Italy reported 5,000 cases of measles in 2017 - about 200 times more than the U.S. Four people died - one adult and three children under age 10, all unvaccinated. Last year, 86 people were diagnosed with measles in the USA and so far this year 9 cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over 20,000 cases of measles, and 35 human beings lost in 2017 alone, are a calamity that can not be accepted.

Ukraine, with 4,767 measles cases, was among the three countries most affected by the outbreak, along with Romania and Italy, WHO said.

A World Health Organization statement said: "These countries have experienced a range of challenges in recent years, such as declines in overall routine immunization coverage, consistently low coverage among some marginalized groups, interruptions in vaccine supply or underperforming disease surveillance systems".

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Because of the poor quality of vaccines, many parents refused vaccination, which led to outbreaks.

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Other countries with large outbreaks included Italy (5,006), Germany (927), France (520) and the United Kingdom (282).

Today (20 February), ministers of 11 countries will convene to discuss ways they can work together in order to achieve the goals set out in the European Vaccine Action Plan (EVAP) by 2020, including measles and rubella elimination.

The measles rash is made up of red or brown blotches.

Doubts were raised following a 1998 study by Dr Andrew Wakefield.

The virus is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. However, she adds that health workers have struggled to push vaccination rates past 78 percent, though they say rates of 90 to 95 percent are needed to stop outbreaks. The WHO is concerned by low rates of immunisation against the disease.

Neighbouring Italy has witnessed a big outbreak of measles, prompting the government past year to introduce a law that made it incumbent on kindergarten schools and child care centres to accept only children who are vaccinated.


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