CONCERNS over a measles 'epidemic' have been raised after cases of the potentially deadly disease appear to be on the rise, warn global health chiefs.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) urged parents to get their children vaccinated against the highly infectious disease.

It raised concerns that a dip in vaccination uptake during the Covid-19 pandemic could be behind a rise in cases compared to what would usually be expected in the first two months of the year.

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Problems with accessing care and questions over vaccination which arose during the pandemic could have led to fewer people getting the jab, it suggested.

Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for Covid-19, told Sky News: “We’ve got an awful lot of people who have missed out on measles vaccination – 73 million throughout the world."

“And that’s meant that this year, in the first few months, there have been 17,000 cases of measles globally, whereas in the first two months of the previous years, it’s usually been lower – 10,000 or less.

“So yes, we’ve got a global measles epidemic, and that worries us because measles can be a very dangerous disease.

17,000 cases so far this year

Last week, the WHO and Unicef warned there is a “perfect storm of conditions for measles outbreaks”.

The organisations said that an increase in cases around the world in January and February were “worrying” and could trigger larger outbreaks.

Some 17,338 measles cases were reported worldwide in January and February 2022, compared to 9,665 during the first two months of 2021.

The organisations said that about 73 million children are at risk of measles due to missed vaccinations.

It echoes similar warnings issued by UK health officials in February.

MMR uptake drops to lowest in a decade in the UK

The UK Health Security Agency said that uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has dropped to the lowest level in a decade.

Coverage of the first dose of the MMR vaccine in two year olds dropped below 90%, it said.

And 85.5% of five-year-olds in England have had both doses of the jab, the health body said in February.