Wednesday October 16, 2019

WHO Warns A Rise In The Number Of Measles Cases

They also warn the spread of falsehoods and misinformation.

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A health worker vaccinates a toddler against measles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns a spike in the number of measles cases globally is putting hard won progress toward the elimination of this highly contagious, deadly disease at risk.

Measles immunizations have saved more than 21 million lives globally since 2000. But, unveiling a new report, the World Health Organization says multiple outbreaks of this killer disease since 2016 have caused an estimated 110,000 deaths in all regions of the globe.

In addition, WHO’s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, Martin Friede, says there has been a very worrying jump of more than 30 percent in reported measles cases worldwide.

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Two sick children wait for treatment after being admitTed to a hospital in Agats, Asmat District, after the government dispatched military and medical personnel to the remote region of Papua to combat malnutrition and measles, Indonesia. VOA

“We are seeing sustained measles transmission in countries that had previously not seen measles transmission for many years. So, the countries had eliminated measles, but it has now been re-established in the country. This is very worrying. This suggests that we are actually regressing in certain cases,” Friede said.

The report finds the Americas, the eastern Mediterranean region, and Europe have experienced the greatest surges in cases, with the western Pacific the only region where the number of cases has fallen.

But, it notes the biggest increases continue to be in areas with low immunization coverage where measles is endemic. For instance, the report finds a two-fold rise in cases of the disease in Africa.

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A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet is seen at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Feb.26, 2015. VOA

Health officials attribute the growth of measles cases to a sense of complacency, especially in industrialized countries where the disease has not been seen for many years.

Also Read: Europe Suffers From A Severe Measles Outbreak

They also warn the spread of falsehoods and misinformation, such as the debunked link between measles vaccinations and autism, discourages many parents from immunizing their children against the disease. (VOA)

Next Story

WHO Reports Progress in Containing Ebola Outbreak in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

It is impossible to predict where the outbreak is going to go next, said Ryan.

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The executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan, says he is largely optimistic that aid workers are getting control of the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo. VOA

The World Health Organization reports progress in containing the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but says many challenges to its elimination remain.  WHO reports the number of cases in the outbreak now stands at 3,207, including 2,144 deaths.

The executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan, says he is largely optimistic that aid workers are getting control of the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo.  But, he says, it is impossible to say the outbreak is over.

“It is not.  It is impossible to predict where the outbreak is going to go next,” said Ryan. “But… I do–I would stand over the fact that we have significantly contained the virus in a much smaller geographic area.  Now we have to kill the virus.  The problem is, it is back in areas that are deeply insecure.”

In fact, the virus has come full circle.  Ryan notes the disease has moved from Butembo and other urban areas to the remote, rural town of Mangina, the epicenter of the outbreak.  He says the virus is back where it began when the Ebola outbreak was declared August 1, 2018.

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But, he says, it is impossible to say the outbreak is over. Pixabay

“So, essentially the virus is back in the same zone,” said Ryan. “So, the factors that allowed that virus to transmit at low intensity for a number of months, have not changed.  Deep insecurity, reticence amongst the population, distrust and many other factors continue to make this a very dangerous situation.  But a situation, for which I believe we are making significant progress at this time.”

Ryan says WHO is increasing the scale of its operation, engaging in active surveillance across North Kivu province and actively seeking new cases and tracing contacts to keep the virus from spreading.

He says more than 230,000 people have been vaccinated against the deadly disease and more lives are being saved among people infected with the virus who are coming to the treatment centers.

He says the fatality rate among the nearly 800 patients currently in Ebola treatment units is less than one third – a significantly better outcome than the two-thirds fatality rate reported for the disease overall.

Also Read- One in Five People in Conflict-Affected Areas Live with Mental Health Condition

Still, this is the biggest Ebola outbreak in Africa since the epidemic across three West African countries in 2014 killed more than 11,000 people. (VOA)