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Measles outbreaks in countries around the world: WHO

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    24th Apr, 2019
  • Measles cases have continued to climb into 2019. Preliminary global data released by WHO shows that reported cases rose by 300 per cent in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This follows consecutive increases over the past two years.
  • The WHO called measles one of the world’s most contagious diseases as around 1.1 lakh people lost their lives to the disease in 2017.

Context

  • Measles cases have continued to climb into 2019. Preliminary global data released by WHO shows that reported cases rose by 300 per cent in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. This follows consecutive increases over the past two years.
  • The WHO called measles one of the world’s most contagious diseases as around 1.1 lakh people lost their lives to the disease in 2017.

About

More findings by WHO:

  • The disease is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine, but the data collected shows that global coverage for the first dose of the vaccine has stalled at 85 per cent, which is short of the 95 per cent needed to prevent outbreaks and the second dose global coverage stands at 67 per cent.
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine are the countries currently facing outbreaks causing deaths, mostly among children.
  • However, the data shows that there are many countries facing outbreaks despite significant vaccination coverage. These countries include the United States of America, Israel, Thailand and Tunisia. The reason it gave for this is the disease spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.

What is Measles, its causes and symptoms?

  • It is a highly contagious viral disease caused by measles virus.
  • It is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases.
  • It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.
  • Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth.
  • Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
  • The virus reduces immunity; children who have had measles – especially those who are undernourished – may die of pneumonia, diarrhoea and encephalitis later on.

How it can be prevented?

  • The measles vaccine has been in use since the 1960s. It is safe, effective and inexpensive.
  • Routine measles vaccinations for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns in countries with low routine coverage, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths.
  • 2 doses of measles vaccine are given either alone or in a measles-rubella (MR), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) combination. The second dose is given to vaccinated children who fail to develop immunity from the first dose.

What are the global efforts to eliminate it?

  • WHO is the lead technical agency responsible for coordination of immunization and surveillance activities supporting all countries.
  • Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020.

What are India’s efforts to eliminate it?

  • With support from WHO, in November 2010, India launched a massive polio-style measles vaccination project in 14 high-burden states, in a three-phase campaign.
  • With two phases of the measles vaccination campaign completed, and the third phase on-going, more than 102 million children in 344 districts have been vaccinated, achieving between 87% and 90% coverage.
  • Gujarat has gone from nearly 1000 cases in 2010 to none in 2012.
  • Bihar, once the state with the lowest immunization coverage levels in the country, the proportion of children immunized against common childhood diseases tripled as polio eradication activities intensified (from 18.6% in 2005 to 66.8% in 2010).
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