Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Measles cases soar worldwide, United Nations warns of ‘complacency’

Twelve Waikato people have caught measles so far in 2019 GILLIAN FLACCUS APTwelve Waikato people have caught measles so far in 2019
Francis Osborne | 03 March, 2019, 00:25

By 2014, the US saw 667 cases of measles, and has already seen 159 cases in 2019 as of February 21.

"Hence, the resulting decline in immunization that brought about the measles outbreak", said Dr. Jose Santiago Jr, president of Philippine Medical Association (PMA) during the "Vaccination and Its Public Health Impact" summit in Quezon City Thursday.

That law was passed because large clusters of "anti-vaxx" parents were refusing to vaccinate their children - allowing outbreaks of measles and whooping cough to re-emerge in that state. Individuals potentially exposed, if infected, could develop symptoms as late as March 18, the alert said. I urge parents who are traveling with young children to follow Health Department recommendations and vaccinate their kids.

The case is unrelated to an ongoing measles outbreak in southwest Washington state that's sickened dozens.

Measles is a highly contagious disease and can cause pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death. "So we would actually be at closer to what would be the tail end of this outbreak", he said. Likewise, it can be very hard to combat the disease, as there is no specific treatment apart from pre-emptive vaccination.

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That brings the number of cases in the Portland, Oregon bedroom community of Vancouver, Washington, to 68 - more than 40 per cent of the number reported nationwide since January 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated statistics released Friday.

Although it was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000, the current outbreaks are largely linked to global travelers bringing back the disease, which then spreads through pockets of unvaccinated people or communities, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once a person has had the measles, they are immune for life.

Since the beginning of the year, Clark County has seen 65 people with confirmed cases of the measles around the Vancouver area. Last year, there were 372 reported cases of measles nationwide. Severe reactions to vaccines are shown to be extremely rare; the CDC says they occur in less than one out of every million doses for the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP). "Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects". This is nothing new - the benefits of vaccines in eliminating diseases have been known to far outweigh their risks.

Scott Lindquist, MD, the Washington Department of Health epidemiologist for communicable diseases, told Contagionthat the legislation would be a good start, but more action is needed to contain the issue of infectious disease outbreaks.

The remarks mirror recent comments by the World Health Organization who blamed the increase in measle cases on the "failure to vaccinate", which they also noted was being encouraged by misinformation. Ten countries account for more than 74 percent of the total increase, and the disease has reemerged in several nations that had previously been declared measles-free.

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