Measles outbreak up to 17 cases

Grant Boone
October 8, 2019

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that between January and July of 2019, there were nearly 365,000 reported cases of measles worldwide, which is the most since 2006.

"It has scrapped the health targets that resulted in higher vaccination rates, and been asleep at the wheel as the current outbreak has taken hold".

The United States-based Center for Disease Control has revealed in an update that New Zealand has exported two cases of measles to the U.S. this year, more than either India or China, National's Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

The disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, meaning there was no continuous transmission for a year. The update included data recorded up to october 3, and noted that there is only one outbreak now under investigation, which is in NY but not related to the cases previously recorded in the Rockland County.

"New Zealand now has a measles outbreak bigger than all of the U.S., is exporting cases overseas, and yet we still don't have enough vaccines to ensure everyone is protected". This is a very important detail because a country's measles-free status is determined by the World Health Organization and that status can be revoked if the same measles strain that was brought from another country circulated within a population for a period of 12 months.

119 of these cases required hospitalization, and 61 patients reported complications including pneumonia and encephalitis.

The outbreak in NY this year narrowly avoided meeting that threshold.

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"We are very pleased that the measles outbreak has ended in NY and that measles is still considered eliminated in the United States".

Health officials are blaming the anti-vaccine movement for nearly costing the United States its measles elimination status, a landmark achievement in health that has stood for nearly 20 years.

CDC director Dr. Robert R. Redfield in his statement repeated CDC's emphasis "vaccines are safe". According to government monitoring reports, there have been 111 cases of measles reported in Canada so far this year, compared to only 29 cases in 2018.

Hotez added that he expects the United States to "hit peak measles transmission season" in the first and second quarter of next year.

Public health staff are in the process of providing information to people who were potentially exposed to the most recent cases where they were known, and will be offering preventative treatment or immunisation as appropriate.

In the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, according to the CDC, almost all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. One dose of the vaccine is 93% effective at preventing measles, and two doses are 97% effective against the disease.

Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by the measles virus.

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