Sunday, 22 September, 2019

‘Dramatic resurgence’ of measles seen in Europe, WHO reports

A nurse enters a New York-based health department where a measles outbreak has sickened scores of locals Enlarge Image A nurse enters a New York-based health department where a measles outbreak has sickened scores of locals AFP Getty Images
Anna Jefferson | 31 August, 2019, 15:31

"It certainly is incredibly frustrating and upsetting to the public health community that we may lose measles elimination status, because we do have a safe and effective vaccine", Messonnier said.

Health experts say the virus has spread among school-age children whose parents declined to give them the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which confers immunity to the disease.

However, past year there was a marked increase in measles with 991 confirmed cases in England and Wales, compared with just 284 cases in 2017.

Countries are declared measles-free when there is no endemic transmission for 12 months in a specific geographic area.

According to the report, the ongoing measles outbreaks in NY are putting the US's elimination status at risk. This means measles is considered eliminated in 35 of the 53 countries in WHO's European region for 2018, down from 37 in 2017.

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The WHO mentioned there have been 89,994 instances of measles in 48 European global locations within the first six months of 2019, greater than double the quantity in the identical interval in 2018 when there have been 44,175 instances, and already greater than the 84,462 instances reported for all of 2018.

Dr Gunter Pfaff, chair of the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC), said: "Re-establishment of measles transmission is concerning. This is the time and opportunity to address any underlying health system, social determinants and societal challenges that may have allowed this deadly virus to persist in this region", he said. "If someone has high confidence in institutions such as the CDC, this person is likely to vaccinate regardless of whether he or she lives close to a recent measles outbreak".

"We are backsliding, we are on the wrong track", O'Brien, director of WHO's department of immunisation, vaccines and biologicals, told a news briefing. Social media platforms have been increasingly under fire for promoting misleading and incorrect content, including by opponents of vaccination. Furthermore, the vaccine is strictly monitored by worldwide bodies including the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency. (The CDC had originally hoped to have it eliminated by 1982.) And in 2016, the World Health Organization declared measles eliminated from the Americas altogether.

Around 90 thousand cases have already been confirmed across this year across Europe. "Generally, there's more accessible and visually compelling health misinformation than science-based journal articles on the virtues of vaccinations", Ifeoma Ozoma, Pinterest's public policy and social impact manager, said in a blog post.

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