A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF warns that there could be a significant increase in the number of measles cases around the world. More than 17,000 cases have already been reported globally in January and February, an increase of nearly 80% from the 9,665 cases reported in the same period last year. The report cites low global vaccination rates in the past few years as the main driver of this increase. Given measles is a preventable disease, it’s worrying to see cases rising.

Measles is a disease caused by infection by the measles virus, which is spread through respiratory droplets when a person with the virus coughs or sneezes. Symptoms can include fever, cough, red eyes and a rash. Measles is extremely contagious, and is one of the most easily spread viruses that infect humans. It is particularly dangerous for children, who may develop severe complications (such as pneumonia or brain swelling) as a result of measles.

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