Amid a global rise in measles cases, DR Congo's health minister has declared an epidemic of measles, with the country already struggling to contain the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus since last August.
Medical teams have confirmed 677 cases of measles among 87,000 suspected cases in 23 provinces, Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement Monday. The tally represents a seven-fold increase on the same period in 2018, he added. He urged parents to vaccinate their children. In April, 2.24 million children aged between six and 59 months were vaccinated over four days, and another immunization campaign covering 1.4 million children will be launched "in the coming days," he said.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the outbreak of measles continues with two more states, Idaho and Virginia, reporting cases of the disease, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Monday. The U.S. has recorded 1,022 cases of the diseases this year as of June 6, in an outbreak blamed on misinformation about vaccines.
The 2019 outbreak, which has reached 28 states, is the worst since 1992, when 2,126 cases were recorded. Federal health officials attribute this year's outbreak to U.S. parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. These parents believe, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in the vaccine can cause autism. CDC officials have warned that the country risks losing its measles elimination status if the ongoing outbreak, which began in October 2018 in New York, continues until Oct. 2019.