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Measles cases in Europe tripled last year, WHO says

While vaccination rates are improving, the WHO says coverage is not high enough to prevent circulation of the virus in many countries.

Ukraine reported the highest number of measles cases last year - more than 10 times that of the next highest, Serbia.

Over 90% of cases were in 10 countries, including France, Italy and Greece.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious health complications, including infections of the lungs and brain.

There were 72 deaths from measles in Europe in 2018 compared with 42 in 2017.

The European countries with the highest number of measles cases from January to December 2018 were:

  • 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)
  • Romania (1,087)

In the UK, there were 953 measles cases last year.

Meanwhile, Ukraine had the highest rate of measles cases in Europe, at 1,209 per one million population - 10 times the country's rate in 2017