The World Health Organization (WHO) this week announced that measles deaths around the world hit an all-time low in 2012. The organization's new mortality estimates count only 122,000 measles deaths worldwide in 2012, a full 78% fewer deaths than the 562,000 recorded in 2000. Reported cases of the measles have dropped at nearly the same rate, down 77% from 853.000 in 2000 to just 226,722 in 2012.
The WHO is crediting global measles immunization programs as the cause of the dramatic drop in deaths. The organization's data shows that worldwide immunization coverage is now at 84%. It also cites 145 countries as now having introduced routine second doses of measles vaccines. An estimated 13.8 million measles deaths have been prevented through vaccinations.
Though it appears humans are conquering measles the disease still remains a threat in many places around the world. While North America is largely measles-free (though imported cases and the anti-vaccination movement have combined to produce some small outbreaks in recent years), other regions around the world are still subject to major measles outbreaks.
The WHO's African region is the most at risk, mainly due to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC was found to have 72,029 reported cases of the measles in 2012, far more than any other country in the world. Burkina Faso and Nigeria were also high on the list of reported cases, with 7,362 and 6,447, respectively.
The WHO's South-East Asia region is also highly at risk. India (18,668) and Indonesia (15,489) led that region in measles cases in 2012.
The European Region is led by Ukraine, which had 12,746 reported measles cases in 2012. Romania followed with 7,450 cases that year.
Somalia (9,983), Sudan (8,523), and Pakistan (8,046) led the Eastern Mediterranean region in 2012 measles cases.
Though China has managed to control measles much better than India, the country's high population contributed to 6,183 reported measles cases in 2012, the highest of any country in the WHO's Western Pacific region.
Image via CDC