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A medical assistant gives an MMR vaccine to an infant at the Medical Arts Pediatric Med Group in Los Angeles, 2015. Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

142,300 people — mostly children under 5 years old — died from measles in 2018, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

The big picture: Cases of the vaccine-preventable infection continue to spike around the world. Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Liberia and Somalia had the highest incidence rates of the infection in 2018.

By the numbers: In 2019 so far...

  • 5,110 measles-related deaths have been reported in the DRC in 250,270 suspected cases as of Nov. 17 — an increase of more than 8,000 cases compared to the previous week. The DRC has also been battling outbreaks of Ebola and malaria.
  • Madagascar and Nigeria are two countries with ongoing outbreaks, with new cases reported weekly, WHO stated on Nov. 27. Ukraine has reported 56,802 cases of measles this year through Nov. 5.
  • The Samoa Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 2,437 cases and 32 associated deaths as of Nov. 26. The WHO said on Nov. 27 that 243 of those new cases had been reported within 24 hours.
  • The U.S. measles outbreak this year broke a 27-year record, reaching a total of 1,276 cases in 31 states as of Dec. 5, per the CDC. There have been no reported fatalities in the U.S., and cases have dropped since spiking in April. But it only takes one unvaccinated group for the extremely contagious virus to establish a new foothold, Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly reports.

Where it stands: Roughly 16,000 more deaths related to measles occurred globally in 2018 than in 2017. 124,000 estimated measles-related deaths were reported in 2017, according to WHO.

  • The CDC recommends getting the MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella. Children should receive two doses of the vaccine — first at 12–15 months of age, then again at 4–6 years of age.
  • To achieve a herd immunity threshold for measles, WHO recommends a community vaccination rate of 93%–95%.

Go deeper ... WHO: Measles outbreaks spike globally

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

5 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.