HealthOver half of global population at risk by 2024: Measles threatens in vaccination gaps, WHO warns

Over half of global population at risk by 2024: Measles threatens in vaccination gaps, WHO warns

Anyone can get infected with Odra, but children are the most at risk.
Anyone can get infected with Odra, but children are the most at risk.
Images source: © Pixabay
10:37 AM EST, February 23, 2024

Considered the most infectious of all viral illnesses, measles can affect between 10 to 20 people in a population without immunity. Children remain the most susceptible to contracting this disease.

The common symptoms of measles include high fever, cough, runny nose, and a distinctive rash covering the entire body. There are currently no specific medications for treating this illness. As measles is a viral infection, antibiotics, which only combat bacterial infections, are ineffective. Yet, it is preventable through widespread vaccination.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that this reduction in cases is primarily attributable to vaccination programs. Experts believe these initiatives have saved over 50 million lives in the past 20 years.

The challenge now is the decrease in vaccinations and a corresponding sharp increase in measles cases seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend is apparent in Poland, where the number of unvaccinated children rises yearly.

"No one should die from measles"

The WHO is sounding the alarm about the risk of a global measles epidemic. The figures speak for themselves. WHO specialists recently disclosed that in 2023, the number of measles cases in Europe had increased an alarming 60 times.

"These large gaps in our vaccination programs demand quick action. Otherwise, measles could easily leap into those gaps," warns Natasha Crowcroft, measles and rubella expert at the WHO as quoted by the dw.com portal.

Measles is a potentially fatal disease that can be severe for people of all ages. Common complications include inflammation of the middle ear, pneumonia, post-infectious encephalitis, and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.

"No one should die from measles. Vaccines offer a safe and effective method to prevent unnecessary deaths," emphasized Andrea Ammon, Director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
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