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The number of measles cases worldwide nearly quadrupled in the first three months of the year compared to last year, the World Health Organization reported Monday.

The United Nations agency, citing preliminary data, said that more than 112,000 cases of the preventable but highly contagious disease have been reported across the globe in the January-to-March period.

WHO called for better vaccination coverage against measles, which can kill or leave a child disabled for life.

A woman, right, who identified herself as Ester, passes a group of boys, April 9, 2019, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. Ester says that she does not believe that the measles vaccination is safe.
New York City Turns to Drastic Measure to Curb Measles Outbreak
For months, New York City has been fighting a measles outbreak in the Orthodox Jewish community. The mayor finally declared a public health emergency April 9 because measles continue to spread among unvaccinated children. Parents who refuse to vaccinate now face heavy fines.Brooklyn is a borough in New York City known for its tight-knit, ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Women wear long, modest dresses, and the men are recognizable in large-brimmed hats and long black coats.Vaccine mandatoryAbout 100…

Over recent months, WHO said spikes in the disease have occurred "in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States ... as well as Israel, Thailand, and Tunisia, as the disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people."

"While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend," WHO said. "Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases."

A sign explaining the local state of emergency because of a measles outbreak at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., March 27, 2019.
US Measles Tally Hits 465, With Most Illnesses in Kids
U.S. measles cases are continuing to jump, and most of the reported illnesses are in children. Health officials say 465 measles cases have been reported this year, as of last week. That's up from 387 the week before. The numbers are preliminary. The 2019 tally is already the most since 2014, when 667 were reported. The most before that was 963 cases in 1994. Outbreaks have hit several states, including California, Michigan and New Jersey. New York City accounted for about two-thirds of the U.S. …

The agency said the reported number of cases often lags behind the number of actual cases, meaning that the number of documented cases likely does not reflect the actual severity of the measles outbreaks.

For three weeks in a row, U.S. health authorities have added dozens of new reports of measles to its yearly total, now at 555, the biggest figure in five years. Twenty of the 50 U.S. states have now reported measles cases.

FILE -- Measles, mumps and rubella vaccines sit in a cooler at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., March 27, 2019.
How Measles Is Making a Return in New York and Elsewhere
New York City declared a public health emergency Tuesday and ordered mandatory vaccinations for measles in a part of Brooklyn that is home to a large Orthodox Jewish community. The city took the unusual step amid a surge of 285 measles cases in the city since September, most in one densely packed neighborhood where people now have to get vaccines or risk a $1,000 fine. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there have been 465 cases so far this year, two-thirds of them…

More than half of the U.S. total — 285 cases — have been reported in New York City. Officials in the country's largest city last week ordered mandatory measles vaccinations to halt the outbreak that has been concentrated among ultra-Orthodox Jews in the city's Brooklyn borough.

City health department officials blamed anti-vaccine propagandists for distributing misinformation in the community.