As cases of measles surge, "decades of progress" are in jeopardy

The findings reinforced similarly alarming results reported three months ago by the World Health Organization for Europe, which showed that measles had reached the highest levels in two decades across the Continent.

At least 95 percent of a population must have immunity to control the spread of measles, public health officials say. But in several European countries, the figure is 85 percent or less. Health officials have put the blame for the immunity problem partly on parental neglect and the mistaken belief that vaccines can cause autism and other afflictions.

The measles increase in Latin America was partly attributable to an economic calamity afflicting Venezuela, where many public health services have stopped or are mired in dysfunction.