February 22, 2024

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Global Measles Resurgence: Over 42000 Cases Raise Concerns

Global Measles Resurgence: Over 42000 Cases Raise Concerns



Global Measles Resurgence: Over 42000 Cases Raise Concerns

Nature Issues Warning: Over 42,000 Confirmed Cases of Measles, 43% Increase in Death Toll – Caution Against Resurgence.

On January 31, 2024, Nature published a commentary titled “Measles outbreaks cause alarm: what the data say,” reporting the rapidly rising cases of measles in Europe, America, and globally, along with the associated reasons.

Measles, caused by the measles virus, is an acute respiratory infectious disease considered one of the most contagious respiratory infections (R0=12-18, where R0 represents the average number of cases caused by an infected person during the infectious period).

Global Measles Resurgence: Over 42000 Cases Raise Concerns

Figure 1: Maximum R0 for various diseases, with a higher R0 indicating stronger infectivity (Source: Goats And Soda)

Measles spreads through contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected individuals (coughing or sneezing) or breathing air exhaled by measles patients. Infected individuals are contagious in the four days before and after the appearance of the rash. High-risk groups for this disease include infants, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems, with over 90% of susceptible individuals developing the disease after exposure.

Current Situation of Measles Outbreak

On January 19, the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA) announced a continuous increase in measles cases. Since October 1, 2023, the agency has reported over 300 measles cases in the England region alone. Previously, England experienced an outbreak of approximately 900 measles cases in 2018. A year before that, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the United Nations had eradicated the disease—defined as no endemic measles.

Apart from the UK, a few states in the United States have also witnessed small-scale outbreaks. According to the CDC, from December 1, 2023, to January 23, 2024, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania reported 23 confirmed cases of measles, including imported and local outbreak cases, with most cases involving unvaccinated children and teenagers. The United States had previously experienced a measles outbreak in 2019, with over 1,200 cases of infection.

Europe, however, faces a more alarming situation. According to recent WHO reports, measles cases in Europe have exponentially increased from 941 in 2022 to over 42,000 in 2023, a nearly 45-fold increase. Additionally, WHO data indicates a decline in global vaccination rates for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) from 92% in 2019 to 91% in 2022. Compared to 2021, global measles cases increased by 18% in 2022, with a 43% rise in measles-related deaths.

Causes of the Surge in Measles Cases

There is no specific treatment for measles, and vaccination with the MMR vaccine is the most effective preventive measure. The MMR vaccine contains live virus vaccines against measles, mumps, and rubella and is a crucial tool in preventing severe diseases caused by these infections.

Researchers attribute the surge in measles cases in the UK to a low vaccination rate. According to NHS data, approximately 85% of children in England receive two doses of the MMR vaccine before the age of 5. This falls below the WHO-recommended vaccination rate of at least 95% to achieve “herd immunity,” which is necessary for a region to defend against the spread of the measles virus.

Dr. Ronny Cheung, a pediatrician at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, notes that the resurgence of measles in the UK is not surprising, given that the vaccination coverage for children under 5 is at its lowest level in nearly a decade.

As for the small-scale outbreaks in the United States, a communication from the CDC on January 25 reveals that many cases are linked to international travelers returning to the country, reflecting the global increase in measles cases.

In addition to declining vaccination rates and international travel, Helen Bedford, a population health researcher at University College London, suggests that some anti-vaccine misinformation has led to doubts about the safety of vaccines, contributing to hesitancy in vaccine uptake.

Global Measles Resurgence: Over 42000 Cases Raise Concerns

References:
[1]Latest! Nature issued a warning: More than 40,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease, and the number of deaths has increased by 43%. Lilac Garden. 2024-02-03.
Measles outbreaks cause alarm: what the data say.Nature.31 January 2024.
[2]The Delta Variant Isn’t As Contagious As Chickenpox. But It’s Still Highly Contagious.Goats And Soda.AUGUST 11, 20215:28 AM ET.
[3] Many countries have issued warnings that measles has surged 45 times in Europe! Then China….Weirun Sairun Information.2024-02-02.
[4]Nature: Be alert! Measles is making a comeback and is the most contagious. Hanson Clinical Research. 2024-02-02.
[5]9 million cases! Measles outbreaks have occurred in 37 countries, causing blindness, diarrhea, and severe cases of suffocation and death! Will it affect us? .Health Contact.2023-11-21.

(source:internet, reference only)


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