From 2016 to 2017, the number of reported cases in the region jumped 6.358 percent to 775, largely driven by…
From 2016 to 2017, the number of reported cases in the region jumped 6.358 percent to 775, largely driven by an ongoing outbreak in Venezuela that has since infected thousands. Together with a spike in measles in Europe, Venezuela’s outbreak contributed to a 31 percent increase in reports of the highly infectious disease in 2017, according to researchers from the World Health Organization and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Both America and the European regions have the resources to stop measles and it does not happen,” said William Moss, an epidemiologist of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg’s School of Public Health, which was not involved in the report.
Apparent hope comes after years of continuous progress towards the reduction of disease spread. Even taking into account recently, reported measles cases from 2000 to 201
7 have decreased 80 percent worldwide – from 853 479 to 173 330 – which have calculated deaths from the disease, researchers say in Nov. 30 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Mesh vaccination prevented estimated 21.1 million deaths over that period, the report says, although it is still a leading cause of childbreaking childbirth globally.
“Global efforts to eliminate measles continue to make progress,” said Rebecca Martin, director of CDC’s Global Health Center in Atlanta. “Despite these gains, several regions have experienced major measles outbreaks in 2017, mainly due to low vaccination coverage nationally or in geographic pockets, illustrating how delicate gains in disease elimination can be.”
Cough and sneezing easily disperse measles and viruses can survive for up to two hours in the air. Symptoms begin with fever and cough, followed by a rash rash several days later. An infection can lead to pneumonia or swelling of the brain and can be fatal. Before the vaccine was introduced, measles caused an estimated 400 to 500 deaths in the United States annually.
Overall, researchers found that reported cases of measles increased in five out of six regions from 2016 to 2017, including in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, where – 72 603 and 36 427 cases, respectively – is the disease most common. In Africa, poor health infrastructure is a contributing factor, while conflicts and refugees make measles control challenging in the eastern Mediterranean region, says Moss.
The striking jump in America was driven by a major outbreak that began in Venezuela in 2017 and spread to neighboring countries, including Brazil. Just two years ago, WHO declared that measles were no longer circulated in America and had therefore been eliminated from the region ( SN Online: 9/27/16 ). With elimination, there may still be small outbreaks, but they are due to travelers taking the virus.
But since July 2018, endemic measles have been restored in Venezuela, the report says, meaning that the virus has been circulated there for more than 12 months. There were 3,545 confirmed cases of measles in the country as of August 20, with 62 deaths, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Venezuela’s latest political upheaval, which caused a collapse of public health infrastructure, has burned the outbreak there. A refugee from Venezuelan citizens has spread the virus to other countries.
“Measle’s elimination is a fragile state,” says Moss. “If we turn away from measles control and elimination it will come back.”
In Europe, where reported cases from 2016 to 2017 increased 458 percent to 24,356, the underlying problem is that parents refuse to vaccinate their children, Säger Moss. Vaccine doubt is the cause of outbreaks in the United States too, with decades of long success in preventing measles from undermining efforts to further control the disease. “People do not see it as an important problem, and that’s when you’re more likely to see the hesitation of the vaccines,” says Moss.
In the world there were about 41,000 more cases of measles reported in 2017 compared with 2016, with the totals summan rising from 132,328 to 173,330. It is an increase from 19 cases per million people to 25 per million – and far from the WHO’s goal of reducing the global occurrence of measles to less than five cases per million annually. Some of the increased cases were also due to an increase in the number of countries reporting data, according to the authors.
It is difficult to get a true measure of the global impact of measles. Cases all over the world are “grossly under reported”, says Moss. But there is no doubt that there have been worrying outbreaks. “This is still a problem,” says Moss. “And that’s a global problem.”