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Global-Health Officials Respond to Spike in Measles

December 13, 2018

From NPR News, published on November 30, 2018:

If you take the long view, international health organizations have much to be encouraged about when it comes to the global fight against measles. From 2000 to 2017, for instance, the annual number of measles-related deaths dropped 80 percent -- from a toll of over half a million to just under 110,000 last year.

But lurking inside those statistics, published Thursday by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are some far less rosy numbers. Specifically, what's been going on recently.

The report found that cases of the highly contagious disease spiked by more than 30 percent from 2016 to 2017. The WHO and CDC say there were 173,330 officially reported cases worldwide last year alone -- though they believe that those numbers represent just a fraction of the actual number.

"In general, the number of reported cases reflects a small proportion of the true number of cases occurring in the community," the WHO has previously explained, saying the organization uses a statistical model to estimate the actual number. "Many cases do not seek health care or, if diagnosed, are not reported. In addition, there is a one to two month lag time in reporting."

In this case, the model estimates the actual number of cases last year to be 6.7 million.

Health officials believe they know the roots of the growth.

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