Monday September 23, 2019

Measles Could be Completely Wiped Off, Instead it’s Making a Comeback

In the first three months of this year, the World Health Organization reports that the number of measles cases has tripled over what it was last year

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Measles Could Be Eradicated. Instead, It's Making A Comeback. VOA

Measles is a disease that is only found in humans so it could be completely wiped off the face of the earth. But despite a highly effective and safe vaccine, it is making a comeback.

In the first three months of this year, the World Health Organization reports that the number of cases has tripled over what it was last year.

In Africa, the situation is worse. Africa saw a 700-percent increase compared to last year. Dr. Anthony Fauci heads the research on infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health. He says in Madagascar, the case is dire.

“Madagascar has almost 1,000 deaths and has tens of thousands of infections,” Fauci said. The National Institutes of Health warns that a decline in vaccination which is causing a preventable global resurgence of this often deadly disease, including in the U.S.

“One in ten children who get infected with measles will get an ear infection that could cause deafness. One-and-twenty would get pneumonia. One in a thousand would get brain swelling, what we call encephalitis, and one to three per thousand would die. To say that it is a trivial disease is completely incorrect,” Fauci said.

Dr. Walter Orenstein at the Emory University Vaccine Center has spent his life working to end measles. He says the complications are worse in poor countries.

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Materials are seen left at demonstration by people opposed to childhood vaccination after officials in Rockland County, a New York City suburb, banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces. VOA

“You start off with children who are already at greater risk. They may be malnourished. They may have compromised immune systems. They may be underweight and may have no access to health care so measles is a big killer,” Orenstein said.

ALSO READ: New York City’s Mandatory Measles Vaccination Order Stands Still

You have a 90 percent chance of getting measles if you haven’t been vaccinated and you come in contact with someone who has it. Dr. Rebecca Martin, heads the CDC’s center for global health. She is working to rid Africa of measles.  “It is very infectious. It will find everybody who is not protected against measles,” Martin said.

The solution is to get two doses of the vaccine. That may mean educating parents about both the disease and the vaccine. Equally important is making vaccination a priority of health systems worldwide. (VOA)

Next Story

US’s Worst Measles Epidemic in 27 Years to be in Its Final Stages as No New Cases Reported

“To get to zero is tremendously encouraging,” said Jason Schwartz, a Yale University expert on vaccination policy

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File - A woman receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., north of New York City, March 27, 2019. VOA

The nation’s worst measles epidemic in 27 years could be in its final stages as a week went by with no new reported cases.

“To get to zero is tremendously encouraging,” said Jason Schwartz, a Yale University expert on vaccination policy.

The current epidemic emerged about a year ago and took off earlier this year, with most of the cases reported in Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City. It started with travelers who had become infected overseas but spread quickly among unvaccinated people.

In the spring, 70 or more new cases were being reported every week. Not long ago, the nation that saw that many measles cases in a whole year.

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The nation’s worst measles epidemic in 27 years could be in its final stages as a week went by with no new reported cases. Pixabay

So far this year, 1,241 cases have been confirmed — a number that didn’t rise last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. The last time the CDC reported no new measles cases was 11 months ago.

New York officials responded to the explosion of measles cases with a wave of measures, including education campaigns to counter misinformation about vaccine safety and fines for people who didn’t get vaccinated.

The epidemic has threatened the Unites States’ nearly 2-decade-old status as a nation that has eliminated measles. The status could come to an end if the disease spreads among Americans for a year or more. Other countries, including Greece and the United Kingdom, recently lost their elimination status amid a global surge in the disease.

Measles outbreaks are typically declared over when 42 days pass without a new infection. If no new cases crop up, the national outbreak would likely end on or about Sept. 30 — just before officials might have to decide on the U.S. elimination status.

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The loss of elimination status in the U.S. could take the steam out of measles vaccination campaigns in other countries, said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University vaccine expert.

Health ministers around the world might say, “Why should we strive for elimination? We’ll just do the best we can to control measles, but we won’t go the extra several miles to get to zero,” Schaffner said. (VOA)