Health and Wellness

Measles is ‘imminent threat’ globally, WHO and CDC warn


After a lull following the emergence coronavirus, Measles, a preventable but highly contagious disease, may be back in full swing, according to Wednesday’s statement by the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Calling measles an “imminent threat in every region of the world,” the two public health bodies said in a report that almost 40 million children missed their vaccine doses last year. According to them, 25 million children failed their first dose and another 14.7 millions missed their second. This is a record-breaking number of missed vaccines.

Although the number of measles-related infections has decreased over the past 20 years, it still poses a grave threat to unvaccinated children in developing countries. There were still an estimated 9,000,000 cases and 128,000 deaths worldwide last year. That’s up from 7.5million and 60,000.00 in 2020. The WHO and CDC reported that this increase was due to poorer disease surveillance and delayed vaccine campaigns.

Vaccination can also confer benefits to one’s community, a concept known as herd immunity. For herd immunity to occur in 95 percent of the population, it is necessary to administer two doses of vaccines. However, only 81 percent and 71 percent of global children have received their first doses, according to two bodies.

This flu season is already more severe than any other in 13 years.

The measles, which causes symptoms resembling a cold, weakens the immune system and makes people more vulnerable to other diseases. Seizures and blindness are possible in some instances, according to Britain’s National Health Service.

The WHO has previously warned that the dip in measles infections early in the pandemic was the “calm before the storm.”

“Routine immunization must be protected and strengthened” despite the coronavirus, said Kate O’Brien, WHO’s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, last year. Otherwise, “we risk trading one deadly disease for another.”

Hur Jian, an infectious-disease expert at South Korea’s Yeungnam University Medical Center, said the recent rebound in global travel portends a probable return of measles even in wealthy countries with higher vaccine coverage. She suggested that younger generations with less exposure may have weaker defenses.

The United States declared that it had eradicated measles — defined as no transmission for a year and a well-performing surveillance system — in 2000, but occasional outbreaks still occur. The CDC reports that 50 to 50 measles cases were detected in the United States last year.

Erin Blakemore contributed to the report.

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