In the press release, the Geneva-based organization noted that cases rose by 300 percent within the first three months of 2019. To date, WHO estimates that that there have been 112,163 reported cases of measles in some 170 countries.
In the first three months of 2018, data from 163 countries showed that there were a little more than 28,000 reported cases of measles.
Earlier this year, the US Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) reported that the number of measles cases being diagnosed in the US was at the second highest level in 19 years. Madagascar, which is suffering an outbreak that has claimed 1,200 lives and infected over 100,000, India and Ukraine topped the list of countries with the most reported cases of measles, according to the WHO.
Other countries affected by outbreaks of measles include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sudan and Thailand. Of the reported measles-related deaths in these places, many have been young children.
The disease is quick to spread among those that are not vaccinated against the virus, even in countries where the immunization rates are high. Such countries include the US, Israel, Tunisia and Thailand.
"Responding to measles requires a range of approaches to ensure all children get their vaccines on time, with particular attention to access, quality and affordability of primary care services," reads the press release. "It will also take effective public-facing communication and engagement on the critical importance of vaccination, and the dangers of the diseases they prevent."
The anti-vaccination movement has been a hot topic of debate within the US, with some parents choosing not to administer critical vaccinations to their children at an early age. Recently, a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the New York Department of Health, fighting a mandate by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that requires every child under the age of six months who lives in specific parts of Brooklyn to receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination.
Despite the dangerous and spike in increased measles cases, the parents argued in their lawsuit that "there is insufficient evidence of a measles epidemic or dangerous outbreak to justify" the New York mandate.
The WHO noted that because countries experiencing outbreaks might still be reporting data, there could be discrepancies between the statistics presented by the organization and the official numbers coming directly from the governments.