THE NUMBER of cases of measles shot up a terrifying 300 per cent worldwide in the first three months of 2019, the UN has warned.
Fear is now growing over the impact anti-vaxxers are having on public health.
Getty – Contributor1 Experts believe that anti-vaxxers are to blame for the increasing numbers of measles cases
Measles is highly contagious and can be entirely prevented by having the jab – but increasing numbers of parents are shunning the vaccination.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said: "Preliminary global data shows that reported cases rose by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018."
It said that cases have been rising for two years.
In fact, the organisation warned that rates of measles had hit a decade high across the UK and Europe earlier this year.
"While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend. Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases."
True numbers may be far higher
Only around one in ten cases of measles is actually reported so it could mean that the true numbers of people suffering the disease is far higher.
So far, 170 countries have reported 112,163 measles cases to the WHO.
This time last year, 163 countries had reported 28,124 cases.
The main issue is that the anti-vax movement is gaining more support, out of fear that the jab causes autism.
No link between autism and the MMR vaccine
There is no link at all between having the MMR vaccine and autism – even in children who have other risk factors for the condition, scientists confirmed back in March.
That's the conclusion of a nationwide study of all children born in Denmark to Danish-born mums between 1999 and 2010.
Last week, we revealed that anti-vaxxer parents were holding "measles parties" to give their kids the deadly virus so they become immune and don't need an MMR jab.
People are most at risk if they live in close-knit communities in which people live closely together.
The situation has become so serious in the USA that the mayor of New York has declared a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn, after a measles outbreak emerged in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where some had resisted vaccination on religious grounds.
50 per cent increase in measles cases
WHO has said that measles cases have jumped up by 50 per cent in the last year.
It's a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to very serious complications.
It can cause things like pneumonia and encephalitis – both of which can kill or leave people seriously disabled for the rest of their lives.
Now, experts are calling for measles vaccinations to be made mandatory in certain countries.
It's given in two doses as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.
The first jab is given to kids at around 13 months old, while a second dose is administered at around three years, four months.
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You can be vaccinated as an adult if you didn't have it as a kid – all you have to do is ask your GP for a jab.
The most dramatic rise in measles cases has been in Africa, which has seen a 700 per cent increase compared to last year.
And in Venezuela, where the current political crisis has destroyed the healthcare system, thousands of people have fallen ill.