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Weekly Current Affairs: April week-3 - COVID-19 response puts a million kids at risk of contracting

  • Category
    Health Issues
  • Published
    22nd Apr, 2020

Around 117 million children worldwide risk contracting measles because dozens of countries are curtailing their vaccination programmes as they battle COVID-19.

Context

Around 117 million children worldwide risk contracting measles because dozens of countries are curtailing their vaccination programmes as they battle COVID-19.

About

  • Measles, or rubeola, is a viral infection that starts in the respiratory system. It still remains a significant cause of death worldwide, despite the availability of a safe, effective vaccine.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms of measles generally first appear within 10 to 12 days of exposure to the virus. They include:
    • cough
    • fever
    • runny nose
    • red eyes
    • sore throat
    • white spots inside the mouth
    • widespread skin rash(it is a classic sign of measles)
  • Measles is a highly contagious. It is caused by infection with a virus from the paramyxovirus family. Viruses are tiny parasitic microbes.
  • Once a person gets infected, the virus invades host cells and uses cellular components to complete its life cycle.
  • The measles virus infects the respiratory tract first. However, it eventually spreads to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.

Transmission of the disease:

  • Measles can be spread through the air from respiratory droplets and small aerosol particles.
  • An infected person can release the virus into the air when they cough or sneeze.
  • These respiratory particles can also settle on objects and surfaces and infect a healthy person.
  • The measles virus can live outside of the body for longer than you may think. In fact, it can remain infectious in the air or on surfaces for up to 2 hours.

Can it occur to animals?

  • Measles is only known to occur in humans and not in other animals.
  • There are 24 Trusted Sourceknown genetic types of measles, although only 6 are currently circulating.

Why children are more prone to measles NOW?

  • Currently 24 countries, including several already dealing with large measles outbreaks, have suspended widespread vaccinations, the World Health Organisation and the UN's children's fund UNICEF said.
  • An additional 13 countries have had their vaccination programmes interrupted due to COVID-19.
  • It was vital that immunisation capacity was retained during and after the current pandemic.
  • Together, more than 117 million children could be impacted by the suspension of scheduled immunization activities.

Conclusion:

Measles, a highly contagious disease, affect around 20 million people every year, the majority of whom are aged under five. Despite a cheap and readily available vaccine, measles cases have surged in recent years, largely in part to what the WHO terms "vaccine hesitancy". International organization should be mindful enough of the impact of COVID-19, threatening outbreaks of measles, for which there already exists a safe and effective vaccine. The countries should prepare and plan now for intensive catch-up vaccinations once physical restrictions are lifted.

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