Concern grows amid global measles resurgence

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ATLANTA – Since the end of 2023, measles has posed an increasing threat to children. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint statement after the continuous decline of people who receive the measles vaccination, Al-Ghad reported.اضافة اعلان

The joint statement shows that in 2022, measles cases increased by 18 percent, and the death rate increased by 43 percent worldwide, compared to 2021. This means that there are nine million cases of measles and 136,000 deaths, most of them children.

On its website, the CDC states that the measles outbreak is present in every region of the world. Yemen, India, and Kazakhstan are among the countries where the largest number of people are infected with the measles virus.

The WHO says there was a “worrying” increase of 30 times in measles cases in Europe last year. More than 30,000 people were reported to be infected across the continent in 2023, compared to 941 infections throughout 2022.

What is measles?
Measles is a highly contagious infection that causes a full-body rash and flu-like symptoms. A measles infection occurs due to a virus, so no specific medical treatment exists for it.

Children infected with the virus should drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, stay at home and not go to school, and avoid all community or group activities to prevent the spread of the infection.

How do people get measles?
Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads when people breathe in someone else's air who has the virus.

Additionally, it can be transmitted through droplets that scatter in the air when a person infected with measles sneezes or coughs.

Symptoms usually appear after 7 to 14 days of being exposed to the virus.

People infected with measles can spread the disease early, within 4 days of starting the rash. They are more contagious when they suffer from a fever, runny nose, and cough. People infected with measles remain contagious until at least four days after the rash appears.

Children with measles should be kept away from others for 4 days after the rash appears.

People who have a weakened immune system due to other conditions, such as HIV, some types of cancer, or taking certain types of medications, can spread the measles virus for a longer period until they fully recover and all symptoms disappear.

What are the signs and symptoms of measles?
The first symptoms of measles are usually a severe cough, runny nose, high fever, and red eyes.

Children may also have Koplik spots before the rash begins, which are bright red spots with white or bluish-white centers that may resemble grains of sand inside the mouth.

A fever of up to 40 degrees Celsius is occasionally present along with the rash, which appears 3-5 days after the onset of symptoms.

The red or reddish-brown rash usually starts as flat red spots on the forehead. It spreads to the rest of the face, then down the neck and torso to the arms, legs, and feet. The fever and rash slowly disappear after a few days.

The most common symptoms are:●High temperature.
●Inflammation and redness of the eye.
●Coughing and sneezing.
●A general feeling of fatigue.
●Small white spots may appear inside the mouth.
●A rash that is red or brown that usually does not cause itching and appears after the initial symptoms.

In some cases, measles can lead to complications, such as:
●Ear infections
●Croup (swelling in the trachea and larynx)
●Brain inflammation (irritation and swelling of the brain)

The people most at risk during a measles outbreak are:
●Infants who are not old enough to get the vaccine
●Children and teenagers who did not receive two doses of the vaccine
●Pregnant women
●People who suffer from malnutrition or a weakened immune system

Doctors can give an injection of measles antibodies called immune globulin to people at risk who are exposed to measles. It is most effective when given within 6 days of contact. These antibodies can prevent measles or make the symptoms less severe.

A dose of the measles vaccine helps protect unvaccinated people from getting the disease after being exposed to measles if they get it within 3 days.
How is measles treated?

There is no specific medical treatment for measles. To help manage the symptoms:●Drink plenty of fluids.
●Take a fever medication other than aspirin, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never give aspirin to a child or teenager with a viral illness, as this use is associated with Reye’s syndrome, which can be life-threatening.
●A doctor should closely monitor children who have measles.

Why is vaccination important?Widespread immunization has made measles rare, but outbreaks still occur. An outbreak occurs when the disease occurs in larger numbers than expected in a certain area. But when many people are immunized against a disease, it protects them, prevents the disease from spreading, and helps prevent outbreaks.

“Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963 and widespread vaccination, major epidemics occurred every two to three years and caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year,” stated the WHO.

The organization pointed out that deaths are now much lower than they were in the pre-vaccination days, saying that “an estimated 128,000 people died from measles in 2021.”

Measles outbreaks are increasing around the world, mostly spreading among people who have not been vaccinated.

It is important for all children who can get the vaccine to get it on time. Some people at risk, such as those who have a weakened immune system, cannot get the vaccine.

The CDC says that about nine out of every ten unvaccinated people will get infected after being exposed to the measles virus.

Measles can be prevented by getting two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which protects against those three diseases.

The WHO recommends receiving the first dose of the MMR vaccine at the age of nine months in countries where the disease is prevalent. It says that a second dose should be given later during childhood, for children aged between 15 and 18 months.

Teenagers and adults should also get the MMR vaccine if they have not already done so.

Hesitancy to get vaccinated
The CDC reported that measles vaccination has steadily declined since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The coronavirus has caused setbacks in surveillance and immunization efforts. The suspension of immunization services and the decline in immunization and follow-up rates around the world have left millions of children vulnerable to preventable diseases such as measles,” stated the WHO.

Data in 2021 showed that nearly 40 million children did not receive a dose of the measles vaccine, as 25 million children did not receive the first dose and 14.7 million children did not receive the second dose.

Half of the children who did not receive the first dose live in only 10 countries: Angola, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Can adults get measles?
Anyone can get measles if they have not been vaccinated or have not had it before. However, measles infections are more common among young children.

According to multiple health authorities, measles can cause serious side effects for people of all age groups.

Is it possible for a person to get measles twice?
According to the CDC and Mayo Clinic, a person can get measles twice, but it is very unlikely.

The Mayo Clinic says that more than 93 percent of people who receive the first dose of the MMR vaccine develop immunity against measles, and after receiving the second dose, about 97 percent of people become immune.

For people who are not sure whether they have been vaccinated against measles or not, a blood test can confirm suspicions.

Adults who do not have strong immunity are advised to get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.

It is likely that adults who were born before 1970 received a single dose of the measles or rubella vaccine. These single doses were used before the introduction of the MMR vaccine in 1988.

People who have not been infected or vaccinated need to get two doses, with a one-month interval for each dose.

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