WHO warning: measles infections increased sharply

Measles spread worldwide - including in Germany

Due to gaps in vaccine coverage, severe measles outbreaks occurred worldwide in 2017, killing around 110,000 people. The number of infections has risen again in Germany. This emerges from a recent report recently published by the World Health Organization and other leading health organizations.

According to the WHO, the largest increases in disease cases were recorded in America, the Eastern Mediterranean and in Europe. Long and severe outbreaks were seen in many countries. The current report provides a comprehensive account of the prevalence of measles in the past 17 years. Measles vaccination has saved over 21 million lives since 2000, according to the report. Since 2016, however, the number of illnesses has increased dramatically. The WHO speaks of an increase of 30 percent.

People believed dead live longer

"The resurgence of measles is extremely worrying," emphasizes Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the Deputy Director General of WHO in a press release. In the past two years, measles has also increased in countries where the infectious disease was almost defeated. There is a danger that we will lose decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating but totally preventable disease.

Measles is often underestimated

Dr. Swaminathan strongly advises to step up efforts to increase vaccine coverage and to identify populations who are not or only slightly immunized. Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease that can lead to fatal complications. Infection can lead to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), severe diarrhea, dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent vision loss. Babies and undernourished toddlers are particularly susceptible to serious complications.

Deadly negligence

"The disease can be permanently prevented with just two doses of a safe and effective vaccine," report the WHO experts. The global coverage of the first vaccine dose is around 85 percent. However, 95 percent coverage is needed to prevent epidemics. With the second vaccination dose, the coverage was only 67 percent.

You reap what you sow

"The increase in measles cases is deeply worrying, but not surprising," comments Dr. Seth Berkley, managing director of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. He sees the reasons for measles revival in the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine, the collapsed health system in Venezuela and the low vaccination density in Africa. He warns of even more violent outbreaks if nothing is done about the falling vaccine coverage.

Health organizations are calling for more acceptance

The organizations call for public support and more acceptance for vaccinations. At the same time, wrong information about the measles vaccine should be dealt with harder. However, the greatest effort should be made to reach the poorest and most disadvantaged communities. (vb)

Author and source information

Video: Measles Explained Vaccinate or Not? (November 2021).