U.N. fails to hit measles death reduction target

The United Nations countries have failed to meet a target for reducing the measles death toll by 90 percent by 2010, mostly due to outbreaks in southern Africa and poor vaccine coverage in India.

Members of the World Health Organization set a goal to reduce measles mortality by 90 percent by 2010 compared to 2000 levels. Global deaths dropped 74 percent from 535,300 in 2000 to 139,300 in 2010, the Lancet reports.

African countries accounted for 36 percent of malaria deaths in 2010 while India accounted for 47 percent of malaria deaths from the highly infectious disease. The study was led by Peter Strebel of the WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.

The study projected a significant drop in measles mortality in India by 2015 due to a plan to vaccinate 134 million children in 2011 through 2013.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a viral respiratory disease that typically grows in the cells that line the back of the lungs and throat. Symptoms of measles include runny nose, fever, cough and a rash that covers the body. Approximately one in 10 children who get measles also gets an ear infection, one in 20 gets pneumonia, one out of 1,000 gets encephalitis and one to two out of 1,000 die as a result of the disease.