How ‘completely avoidable’ measles cases continue to climb

Grant Boone
March 2, 2019

"These new cases of measles out breaking within the Orthodox community are worrisome, particularly for parents of children too young to be fully vaccinated against the measles".

Experts say many of these outbreaks are being fueled by low vaccination rates among children.

"These cases haven't happened overnight", said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF's executive director.

She added that a "lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow". The U.S. saw a six-fold increase in measles cases in 2018, according to UNICEF. That compares to 372 cases previous year, and 120 in 2017.

But the World Health Organization past year said cases worldwide had soared almost 50 per cent in 2018, killing around 136,000 people.

Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The virus is one of the most contagious diseases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, the virus can live and be passed to someone up to two hours after an infected person has left the room. Even in 2016, the measles were considered in the United States of America as wiped out.

Around the globe, 98 countries saw an increase in measles cases in 2018, UNICEF said.

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The Philippines, Brazil and France along with seven other countries account for nearly two-thirds of the total increase, which UNICEF says is eroding progress already made in the fight against this curable and highly deadly disease.

A total of 203 patients who contracted measles in 2019 have died as of February 22 this year, the Department of Health said Friday. "We are also doing everything in our power to stop the disease from spreading further in our community and especially in our yeshivas", said Rabbi Avi Greenstein, CEO of the Borough Park Jewish Community Council. If we don't do something about it now, "it could get considerably worse". Having a child with a suppressed immune system is one, but "clearly there are no reports that there is a growing epidemic of children with suppressed immune systems", she said.

"This will protect them from getting measles and reduce the risk of bringing measles back into this country".

The report also specifically calls out the rise in measles cases around the globe, as a result of "vaccine hesitancy".

Taken together, the ten nations accounting for 75 per cent of the increase from 2017 to 2018 account for only a tenth of the global population.

The outbreak now in the Philippines has been blamed on controversy that broke over a dengue fever vaccine as potential side effects to the shot were not properly advertised creating mistrust among the public against all vaccines. Serious complications can include pneumonia or brain swelling, leading to blindness or deafness, and in some cases death.

Cate Ernest, a sophomore biology major, is in favor of mandatory vaccination because they "cause development in immunity to prevent diseases in individuals, as well as others".

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