Tuesday January 28, 2020

Measles Kills 140,000 people, WHO Calls it “Collective Failure”

WHO Decries 'Collective Failure' as Measles Kills 140,000

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Measles- WHO
A child reacts after receiving a measles-rubella vaccination in Yangon, Myanmar. VOA

Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

In figures described by its director general as “an outrage,” the WHO said most of last year’s measles deaths were in children under five years old who had not been vaccinated.

“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.

The picture for 2019 is even worse, the WHO said, with provisional data up to November showing a three-fold increase compared with the same period in 2018.

The United States has already reported its highest number of measles cases in 25 years in 2019, while four countries in Europe — Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and Britain — lost their WHO “measles-free” status in 2018 after suffering large outbreaks.

An ongoing outbreak of measles in South Pacific nation of Samoa has infected more than 4,200 people and killed more than 60, mostly babies and children, in a battle complicated by a vocal anti-vaccination movement.

Globally, measles vaccination rates have stagnated for almost a decade, the WHO said. It and the UNICEF children’s fund say that in 2018, around 86% of children got a first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services, and fewer than 70% got the second dose recommended to fully protect them from measles infection.

Highly contagious

Samoa Measles
A child gets vaccinated at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa. Samoa. VOA

Measles is one of the most contagious known diseases — more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or flu. It can linger in the air or on surfaces for several hours after an infected person has been and gone — putting anyone not vaccinated at risk.

In some wealthier nations, vaccination rates have been hit by some parents shunning them for what they say are religious or philosophical reasons. Mistrust of authority and debunked myths about links to autism also weaken vaccine confidence and lead some parents to delay protecting their children.

Research published in October showed that measles infection not only carries a risk of death or severe complications including pneumonia, brain damage, blindness and deafness, but can also damage the victim’s immune memory for months or years — leaving those who survive measles vulnerable to other dangerous diseases such as flu or severe diarrhea.

The WHO data showed there were an estimated 9,769,400 cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths globally in 2018. This compares to 7,585,900 cases and 124,000 deaths in 2017.

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In 2018, measles hit hardest in Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine, the WHO said, with these five nations accounting for nearly half of global cases.

Robert Linkins, a specialist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data were worrying: “Without improving measles vaccine coverage we’re going to continue to see these needless deaths. We must turn this trend around.” (VOA)

Next Story

Children of Mothers With Diabetes Are Likely To Suffer From Heart Diseases, Says Study

The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes

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Diabetes
Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified in the Study. Pixabay

Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned.

The increased rates were more pronounced among children of mothers with a history of CVD or diabetic complications, said the study published in the journal The BMJ.

“Our study provides evidence that children of mothers with diabetes, especially those with a history of CVD or with diabetic complications, had increased rates of early onset CVD throughout the early decades of life,” said study researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark.

If this association is shown to be causal, preventing, screening, and treating diabetes in women of childbearing age could be important not only for improving the health of the women but also for reducing long term risks of CVD in their offspring, the researchers added

The number of women diagnosed with diabetes before or during pregnancy has increased globally, and children of these women are more likely to have risk factors for future CVD, such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. It is unclear, however, whether or to what extent exposure to diabetes in the womb increases the risk of developing CVD in offspring over a lifetime.

So an international team of researchers set out to evaluate associations between diabetes diagnosed before or during pregnancy and early onset CVD in children during their first four decades of life. They base their findings on national registry data for over 2.4 million children born without congenital heart disease in Denmark from 1977 to 2016.

Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified.

Diabetes
Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned. Pixabay

Other potentially influential factors, such as mother’s age, education, lifestyle and medical history were also taken into account. During up to 40 years of follow-up, children of mothers with diabetes had a 29 per cent increased overall rate of early onset CVD compared with children of mothers who did not have diabetes (cumulative risks: 17.8 per cent vs 13.1 per cent ).

The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes, particularly heart failure (45 per cent), hypertensive disease (78 per cent), deep vein thrombosis (82 per cent), and pulmonary embolism (91 per cent).

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Increased rates were seen in each age group in childhood (before 20 years of age) and early adulthood (from 20 to 40 years of age), regardless of the type of diabetes they were exposed to (pregestational or gestational) and rates were similar for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the study said. (IANS)