Measles is now an ‘imminent’ global threat due to a pandemic, WHO and CDC say world news
The World Health Organization and the US Department of Health said there was now an “imminent threat” of measles spreading to all regions of the world.
In a joint report, the health organizations said there had been a drop in measles vaccines and reduced surveillance of the disease during the COVID pandemic.
Measles is one of the most contagious human viruses but can be almost completely prevented by vaccination, although 95% immunization coverage is required to prevent outbreaks.
Nearly 40 million children missed a record dose last year due to hurdles created by the pandemic, according to the report by the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This has left millions of children vulnerable to the disease.
“We are at a crossroads,” said Patrick O’Connor, WHO measles director.
“It’s going to be a very challenging 12 to 24 months trying to mitigate this.”
Although cases have not yet increased significantly compared to previous years, now is the time to act, he said.
Ongoing social distancing measures and the cyclical nature of measles may explain why there has been no spike in cases, Mr O’Connor said.
However, this could change quickly as it is a highly contagious disease.
China announces first coronavirus death in six months
Fungal infections have “increased significantly” during the pandemic.
According to official figures, there were about nine million measles infections and 128,000 deaths worldwide last year.
In February, health officials in England warned that vaccination rates had increased dropped to its lowest level in ten years.
Measles is usually transmitted through direct contact and through the air through coughing and sneezing.
Unvaccinated young children are at the highest risk of contracting measles and its complications.
It can cause pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and damage the immune system, making children more susceptible to other infections.
Measles causes symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, and a rash on the face and upper neck, and can sometimes be fatal.
More than 95% of deaths occur in developing countries, mainly in Africa and Asia.
There is no specific treatment for measles, but the two-dose vaccine is about 97% effective in preventing serious illness and death.