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Alarming measles outbreaks surge in Europe and Central Asia

Alarming measles outbreaks surge in Europe and Central Asia


After spiking late last year, measles outbreaks intensified in Europe and Central Asia in the first quarter of 2024, with incidence rates up to hundreds of times higher than in the United States.

While the focus in the United States is on the rising number of measles cases in the country, the situation is at crisis level in Europe and Central Asia. In the US so far (as of April 11) 121 items Infections have been detected, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, the number of measles cases is already almost double the total for all of last year.

However, the situation in the United States pales in comparison to the situation currently experienced in parts of Europe and Central Asia.

For example, England and Wales has reported around 4,200 measles cases so far in 2024, 35 times the number of cases in the United States, which has a population more than a fifth smaller. This is approximately 200 times the rate of measles in the United States.

In January, Britain's Health and Safety Executive declared a “national incident” after the number of infections rose, signaling an increased public health risk. What is particularly worrying is that the number of children exempted from childhood vaccines is increasing at the same time, leading to a decline in vaccination rates.

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According to England's National Health Service, the vaccination rate for measles, mumps and rubella in the Birmingham area, one of the hotspots for measles outbreaks, was around 83% as of December 2022, but has declined since then. There is a possibility that A ratio of at least 95% is important for optimal protection of the population. And to explain the seriousness of the situation, UKSHA said: Only about 50% of children received the full MMR series in parts of East London.

Measles doesn't only affect children. Adults can be seriously affected by this disease. In February this year, an Irish man in his 40s died of measles in a Dublin hospital, according to reports. report in Irish media.He likely contracted the virus during a trip to Birmingham, England in January

As measles outbreaks spread across England, particularly in the London and Birmingham areas, the NHS is running a series of 'catch-up' campaigns this winter, including holding pop-up clinics in schools, distributing public health messages across the country and sending letters. ' started. It has been mailed to millions of parents and guardians in hopes of increasing immunization rates.

In Eastern Europe, a large-scale outbreak has been ongoing in Romania since mid-February 2023, and on December 5, 2023, the Ministry of Health declared a nationwide measles epidemic.By then Romania Registered 1,755 items. The crisis accelerated in the first quarter of 2024. Measles has also hit Russia hard, with more than 9,300 people infected. report As of April 12, 2024.

Furthermore, the number of infected people is rapidly increasing across Central Asia. A nationwide measles outbreak has occurred, and as of April 8, the number of infected people in Kyrgyzstan has soared to 7,864, double the number reported in December last year. The small country has a population of 7 million people.

and as the Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan. I got it.Although measles is an infectious disease that can be prevented by vaccination, there are many cases of vaccine refusal in Japan. Public health authorities are therefore reminding the public of the serious complications of measles, such as encephalitis and brain swelling, and urging people not to refuse vaccination.

Measles initially causes a flu-like illness with symptoms such as a high fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) or higher, excessive bloodshot eyes, red eyes, and a rash that spreads over the entire body. Patients can develop ear infections, severe gastrointestinal problems, pneumonia, and brain swelling. Additionally, viruses can alter and wipe out immune memory. existing antibodies.

Peter Hotez is a researcher and professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology, and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine. Warning Assess the severity of measles infection, which has a 20% chance of leading to hospitalization.

U.S. public health experts say sound the alarm Regarding the possibility that declining herd immunity could lead to large-scale epidemics similar to those in Europe and Central Asia.

The decline in herd immunity is thought to be due to an increasing number of parents refraining from vaccinating their children for religious or philosophical reasons, leading to a gradual decline in immunization rates. For the 2022-2023 school year, 41 states increased non-medical vaccine exemptions for kindergarteners. According to the CDC.

The launch of the COVID-19 vaccine and the vast amount of misinformation surrounding it appears to have further fueled unwarranted concerns about MMR and other childhood vaccinations.

Not that long ago, in the 1960s, measles was the single leading cause of death among young children worldwide. Vaccination campaigns have significantly reduced mortality rates.based on Published estimates in diary lancetIn 2020, 60,700 people died from measles worldwide, a 94% decrease from 1,072,800 deaths in 2000 and a 98% decrease from 2.6 million deaths in 1980.

However, measles remained a major threat to children's health in 2020 in areas with low vaccination coverage. Consider the 2019-2020 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that claimed the lives of more than 7,000 children.

lancet report In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 6,045 people died from measles in 2019, most of them children under the age of five. Researchers attributed the high mortality rate to poor access to medical care and the high risk of acute malnutrition caused by the disease. Thousands of children suffered fatal complications. Additionally, recent evidence suggests that measles resets the immune system beyond immunosuppression, re-exposing children to a variety of infections from which they were previously protected.

More than 1,000 additional deaths occurred in 2020, with the outbreak occurring on August 24, 2020. The end was declared The final number of infected people was 380,766 and the number of deaths was 7,018.

Although the DRC outbreak ended four years ago, measles deaths continue to rise around the world. doubled From 2020 to 2022, that number rose to more than 136,000, indicating the widespread spread of the disease.

It is important to remind ourselves that what happens abroad can also happen in the United States. Even in wealthy developed countries, exposure of unvaccinated populations to the measles virus can have serious consequences. Over 30 years ago, measles outbreak The incidents occurred in the Philadelphia area, primarily involving unvaccinated preschool children. Between November 1990 and March 1991, there were 486 measles-related cases and 6 deaths among members of two Philadelphia church groups who requested exemptions from vaccination on religious grounds. A human death was recorded.

The more parents refrain from vaccinating their children, the more likely infectious diseases such as measles will return, as we are witnessing today. Incidence rates in Europe and Central Asia are hundreds of times higher than in the U.S., and the problem is likely to get worse in the U.S., where there is a growing reluctance or even outright refusal to vaccinate children. It's a stark reminder of something. .




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