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Expand chart
Adapted from an ECDC report; Map: Harry Stevens / Axios

Measles epidemics have surged in the past year, according to a new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and one from the Pan American Health Organization.

The details: Between April 1, 2017, and March 30, 2018, there were more than 14,000 measles cases across Europe, led by Italy (4,448 cases), Romania (3,243), and Greece (2,400). The vast majority (84%) occurred among people who did not receive their measles vaccination, while only 4% of the cases were imported. In the latest dire development, more than 9,000 cases were reported in Ukraine in the first 13 weeks of 2018.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Venezuela is experiencing a large measles outbreak, with more than 1,600 cases from the middle of last year to the present, and there's been a rise in cases in neighboring Colombia and Brazil. In the U.S., a 2017 outbreak in Minnesota was due mostly to declines in immunization rates among a Somali immigrant community erroneously told that vaccines cause autism.

Why it matters: Measles is a killer disease. It’s estimated that more than 2 million children a year died from measles in the 1980s, but due to global vaccine programs (including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance launched in 2000), that number has been brought under 70,000 cases. The return of measles to Europe and the Americas could suggest that some of our vaccine successes could be reversing or unraveling. In the case of Venezuela, measles outbreaks are mostly due to the effect of broad economic problems on its health care system, but for Europe and the U.S. measles outbreaks show the effects of powerful and well-organized anti-vaccine movements.

What's next: Vaccines do not cause autism, but more advocacy is needed to counteract the false claims of anti-vaccine groups. In April 2018, the European Commission proposed activities to strengthen the EU's capacity to vaccinate its population and address what some call “vaccine hesitancy.” In the U.S., however, there are still 18 states that allow non-medical vaccine exemptions linked to personal or philosophical beliefs.

Peter Hotez is a professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is also director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, and the author of “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism.”

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Oklahoma secures $2.6 million refund for hydroxychloroquine purchase — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Ohio GOP censures Rep. Anthony Gonzalez over Trump impeachment vote

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Ohio Republican Party on Friday censured Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and called for him to resign for voting to impeach former President Trump in January, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Gonzalez is the latest Republican lawmaker to be punished for voting to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.