(RNN) – The global number of measles cases surged 31 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
“Since 2016, measles incidence has increased globally and in five of the six WHO regions,” the report said.
The only part of the world recording a decrease was the Western Pacific Region, which includes countries like Australia and Japan.
Health officials blamed the measles outbreaks on gaps in vaccine coverage.
“Due to low vaccine coverage nationally or in pockets, multiple regions have experienced large measles outbreaks in 2017,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said. “Despite challenges, global efforts to eliminate measles continue to make progress. Since 2000, measles deaths decreased by 80%.”
The six countries with the most unvaccinated infants were Nigeria with 3.9 million, India with 2.9 million, Pakistan with 1.2 million, Indonesia with 1.2 million, Ethiopia with 1.1 million and Angola with 700,000.
Estimated deaths from the illness approached 100,000 in 2017.
Measles can be prevented through two doses of a vaccine, which is nearly 100-percent effective.
Measles is a viral infection that is highly contagious and spreads through the air from coughing and sneezing, according to the CDC.
It starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, followed by a rash that spreads over the body.
Measles vaccination prevented an estimated 21.1 million deaths between 2000 and 2017, the report says.