Ukraine Measles Outbreak Kills 11, Infects 30,000
Eleven people have died and more than 30,000 have been infected this year in a major outbreak of measles in Ukraine, the European country worst hit by the disease, Kiev said Monday.
The latest victim was a nine-year-old girl who died from complications Saturday after contracting the highly infectious disease, the health ministry said.
Some 30,500 people, including 17,000 children, have been infected so this year.
Authorities blame a combination of factors including shortages of vaccine and cuts to health services amid an economic slowdown exacerbated by a five-year conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Anti-vaccination sentiment, often driven by online campaigns spreading false information about the alleged risks, also plays a role.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a 95-percent vaccination rate to prevent mass hospitalizations and fatalities.
But in Ukraine, just 42 percent of one-year-olds had been vaccinated as of end-2016, according to the United Nations children's agency UNICEF.
Measles cases more than tripled across Europe in 2018, with Ukraine accounting for most of the gain.
Europe as a whole saw nearly 83,000 cases last year, according to WHO figures. The Ukrainian government reported 54,000 cases in 2018.
Measles is characterized by high fever and a reddish rash. It usually triggers only mild symptoms but remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally.