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The World Health Organization reported that in the first six months of this year, Europe already had 41,000 cases of measles - which is almost twice last year's annual total and higher than any other year over the past decade.

In the first six months of 2018 there were more than 41,000 cases. "So far, the highest annual total for measles cases between 2010 and 2017 was 23,927 for 2017, and the lowest was 5,273 for 2016", World Health Organization said. In 2016, there were just 5,273 reported cases.

Ukraine has by far the highest rate of measles in Europe, with more than 23,000 people affected.

"Seven countries in the region have seen over 1,000 infections in children and adults this year (France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine)".

The U.N. agency on Monday called for better surveillance of the disease and increased immunization rates to prevent measles from becoming endemic. In the United Kingdom, health officials advised people to ensure they were vaccinated after 807 cases were reported through August 6. The illness is highly contagious and can spread rapidly among people who didn't get the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

Catching the disease is rare once immunized with the MMR vaccine, however, dubious allegations of side effects caused by the vaccination - such as causing autism - has resulted in some parents avoiding getting their children vaccinated. "Anyone who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had two doses should contact their GP practice to catch up".

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Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: "We have seen a number of measles outbreaks in England which are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe".

"Following the decade's lowest number of cases in 2016, we are seeing a dramatic increase in infections and extended outbreaks", Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said.

"While most people vaccinate, some individuals do not". A CDC mid-year report showed at least 107 confirmed measles cases across 21 USA states and D.C., which is on pace to be the highest number of cases since 2014.

"A social movement of public health vaccine opposition has been growing in the United States in recent years; subsequently, measles outbreaks have also increased", pediatrician Dr. Peter Hotez and colleagues wrote in their report, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

During the first half of this year, Romania has registered 616 new cases of measles.