WHO: Major measles outbreaks ongoing in six African countries

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26 March 2019, Madagascar, Ambalavao: The young mother Nifaliana Razaijafisoa (18) is worried about her six-month-old baby Sarobidy, who is being examined for measles at the health centre in Ambalavao in southern Madagascar. "I'm so afraid for him. Everyone in the village says that the disease can kill children," says the mother. In Madagascar, only about half of all children are vaccinated. One of the world's largest outbreaks shows the terrible consequences there. (to dpa: "Thousands of deaths: Measles show their devastating power in Madagascar") Photo: Laetitia Bezain/dpa (Photo by Laetitia Bezain/picture alliance via Getty Images)
26 March 2019, Madagascar, Ambalavao: A young mother looks as her six-month-old baby is being examined for measles at the health centre in Ambalavao in southern Madagascar. (Photo by Laetitia Bezain/picture alliance via Getty Images)

At least six African countries are currently experiencing major outbreaks of measles, meaning millions of people globally remain at risk of contracting the disease, according to preliminary reports received by the World Health Organisation.

The six countries are Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, South Sudan and Sudan, while the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar are two of three countries globally which reported the highest numbers of cases in 2019.

The WHO, however, noted that the number of cases in Madagascar significantly dropped in the last few months following nationwide emergency measles vaccine campaigns.

At least 1,500 people have died in a measles outbreak in DR Congo. The country is already grappling with the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history which has killed more than 1,800 people.

The WHO said that Africa recorded a 900% increase in measles cases reported in 2019 so far.

The large outbreaks are attributed to low measles vaccination coverage and disparities in vaccine coverage where there are high national vaccination rates.

In June, it was estimated by the WHO that the global fatality rate stood at about 2.6%.

According to the WHO, measles transmission is mostly seasonal, peaking in spring in temperate climates and after the rainy season in the tropic regions.

People, aged 6 months and older, are advised to get a vaccination at least 15 days prior to travel to an area where measles is present.

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