Measles cases in Europe tripled a year ago, World Health Organization says

A pedestrian walks past an informational sign about the measles in the entrance of the Kaiser Perman

In Clark County, Washington - where about 50 people have been infected since the outbreak started - more than 6 times as many people were vaccinated for measles from January 13 to February 2 compared to the same period past year, according to a spokesperson for Washington State Department of Health.

The WHO also said record numbers of children are getting the vaccine - offering hope the rise in infections may not last.

In the Philippines, there have been more than 1,800 measles cases and 26 deaths so far this year, according to the country's Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau.

"We heard rumblings of a measles outbreak in the capital between December and January and I just knew we were going to get hit", Lon Kightlinger, a former South Dakota state epidemiologist and regular Peace Corp volunteer in Madagascar, tells CNN.

According to the Washington Post, at least 55 people in Washington and neighboring OR have gotten sick with the virus, with new cases tallied nearly daily.

Washington lawmakers, meanwhile, will hold a public hearing Friday on a bill that would remove the so-called "philosophical" exemption for the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR.

Clark County Public Health Department Public Information Officer Marissa Armstrong said that the first case in the Clark County outbreak was a child who had traveled to Clark County from outside the country - information that was announced in the initial outbreak news release January 4.

The Northwest cases are among three ongoing measles outbreaks in the USA that sickened 79 people in January, according to the CDC. Coverage with the first dose of the vaccine also increased slightly to 95%, the highest level since 2013.

Vaccination coverage needs to be about 95 per cent to prevent the virus circulating in communities to create what is known as "herd immunity".

Some 82,596 people in 47 of 53 countries contracted measles, the highest number this decade and three times the figure in 2017.

Of those, 72 cases killed the infected.

"The picture for 2018 makes it clear that the current pace of progress in raising immunization rates will be insufficient to stop measles circulation".

Ninety-two percent of the cases were reported by 10 countries: Ukraine (53,218), Serbia (5,076), Israel (2,919), France (2,913), Italy (2,517), Russian Federation (2,256), Georgia (2,203), Greece (2,193), Albania (1,466) and Romania (1,987).

MMR vaccine rates in two areas in the Pacific Northwest, which has been at the epicenter of a measles outbreak, are surging as people rush to protect themselves and their children from the virus.

The agency said it will continue working to improve vaccination rates.

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