Measles is no longer eliminated in four European countries as cases have soared across the world, the World Health Organization announced Thursday. Based on 2018 data, the disease is no longer considered eliminated in the UK, Greece, Albania, and the Czech Republic. “This is the alarm bell that is ringing around the world: being able to achieve high national coverage is not enough, it has to be achieved in every community, and every family for every child,” said Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO's Immunization Department. Gunter Pfaff, the head of the organization’s European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination, warned that “both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will tragically die” if immunization is not increased.
The WHO said there were 89,994 cases of measles in 48 European countries during the first six months of 2019, more than double the number in the same period in 2018 when there were 44,175 cases. The number of reported cases so far in 2019 has already surpassed the total number of cases reported in all of 2018. The United States is on the verge of losing measles elimination status as well, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.