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It said African countries have experienced a resurgence of measles outbreaks in the last 12 months, adding that Madagascar, in particular, has had a large measles outbreak affecting more than 122,000 cases in the months between October 2018 and April 2019.

The latest figures come less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the USA was experiencing an atypically high number of cases in multiple parts of the country.

"The longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again get a sustained foothold in the United States", the CDC said.

The Ministry of Health recently highlighted that since 2012, all cases of measles in New Zealand came from travellers bringing the disease from overseas and that there are now significant measles outbreaks in many countries.

Although New York and Washington State have been the main areas affected cases have been found in 22 states.

For more information on measles, visit the Florida Department of Health's website.

More than half a million children in Britain have been left unprotected against measles in the past decade, according to a new estimate. The last major USA measles outbreak happened in 2014, and 667 people were infected.

Responding to the shocking figures, Dr Mary Ramsay, Public Health England's head of immunisations warned vaccination is the "only way to protect yourself" from the deadly diseases and urged parents to vaccinate children of all ages against it. "After just one dose of MMR vaccine about 95 per cent of people will be protected from measles, and 99 per cent of people who have had both MMR doses will be protected from measles", Shoemack said. It is part of a record-setting year for measles cases.

Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS in England, said: 'With measles cases nearly quadrupling in England in just one year, it is grossly irresponsible for anybody to spread scare stories about vaccines'.

Measles is highly contagious and can be spread through coughing or sneezing, or touching things that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.

Washington, in the country's northwest, declared in January a state of emergency over its outbreak of the airborne infection that causes fever, coughing and rashes that can be deadly in rare cases.

In the first three months of this year more than 110,000 measles cases have been reported worldwide, up a quarter on the same period last year.

UNICEF also said the number of children who had missed the second dose were "even more alarming", with only 67% of children receiving it in 2017.

The CDC recommends the vaccine for every American over a year old. The agency also placed some of the blame on the "anti-vax" trend, calling "vaccine hesitancy" one of 10 threats to global health this year.

The U.S. topped a list of high-income countries where children were not treated with the first measles vaccine dose between 2010 to 2017, at 2,593,000 cases.