According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US public-health agency, there is an “imminent risk” of measles spreading throughout the world.
The health organizations reported in a joint report that there was a decline in measles vaccines and less surveillance during the COVID pandemic.
Although measles is the most contagious virus in humans, it can be prevented almost completely by vaccination. However, 95% coverage is required to prevent outbreaks.
According to the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40 million children were without a vaccine last year.
Millions of children are now at risk.
Patrick O’Connor, WHO’s lead for measles, stated that “We are at an intersection.”
“It will be very difficult to mitigate this for 12-24 months.”
He said that although cases are not up as much as in previous years, it is now the right time to act.
Mr O’Connor stated that there may have been lingering social distancing and the cyclical nature measles to explain why there hasn’t been a rise in cases.
However, this could change rapidly as it is highly contagious.
Officials estimated that there were approximately nine million measles cases and 128,000 deaths in the world last year.
Health officials in England warned in February that the vaccine rates had dropped to their lowest point in a decade.
Measles can be spread by direct contact or through airborne coughing and sneezing.
Young children who are not vaccinated against measles and its complications are at greatest risk.
It can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis (brain inflammation), as well as damage to the immune system. This makes children more vulnerable to other infections.
The symptoms of measles include fever, muscle pain, and skin rash on the upper neck and face. It can also cause severe complications that can lead to death.
More than 95% deaths take place in developing countries, mainly in Africa and Asia.
Although there is no treatment for measles specifically, the two-dose vaccine against measles is 97% effective in preventing severe illness or death.