Measles outbreaks are exploding in parts of the world where access to vaccines is difficult, or people are rejecting vital jabs. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) outbreaks in 2019 have put a strain on health systems, resulting in serious illness and deaths. Measles is most dangerous to those who are young, old and chronically sick, and can have lasting impacts on the healthiest of people. The latest data from WHO shows world healthcare is increasingly burdened by the disease.
According to the provisional data based on monthly reports to WHO (Geneva), as of August 2019 WHO, measles cases are now three-times higher than last year.
Cases of the disease have increased since 2016, and the worst affected countries are those without access to the measles vaccines.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where cases of Ebola are currently ballooning, is among the worst affected.
Madagascar and Ukraine ranked close behind the DRC in terms of infection rates.
However, the WHO noted cases in Madagascar have dramatically decreased over the last several months, as the country issues emergency vaccination campaigns.
Some countries showing an uptick of the disease have access to vaccines, but many people are refusing to take it.
In the US, cases of measles accelerated to the highest in 25 years.
The European region saw nearly 90,000 cases from January to June 2019, exceeding the 84,462 recorded for the entirety of 2018.
What are the symptoms of measles?
According to the NHS, the initial symptoms of measles mirror the flu, except the trademark rash.
The symptoms are:
– A runny or blocked nose
– Watery eyes
– Swollen eyelids
– Sore, red eyes and sensitivity to light
– High temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F)
– Small grey-white spots in the mouth
– Aches and pains
– Loss of appetite
– Tiredness, irritability and lack of energy
Measles is an eminently treatable disease, and almost entirely preventable with two doses of a vaccine.
For vaccination to be successful, 95 percent of people in any given community should have the jab.
However, according to data from WHO and UNICEF, only 69 percent of children get their second dose.
Some 20 million children did not receive this dose in 2018, and 23 countries still haven’t introduced the jab to their national schedule.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.