May 22, 2019

How ‘completely avoidable’ measles cases continue to climb in US

02 March 2019, 03:56 | Silvia Roy

How ‘completely avoidable’ measles cases continue to climb in US

Dr. Robert Redfield Jr. director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"That's a remarkable upswing from the last two years: in 2017 there were just 120 cases, and the following year, 372".

"This is a wake up call".

Measles is a highly contagious, airborne disease and can cause pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and in some cases death, according to the Health Department.

The new surge in cases has not "happened overnight", she added. "Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow".

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

"Measles is more contagious than tuberculosis or Ebola, yet it is eminently preventable with a vaccine that costs pennies".

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Overall, the vaccination rate of kids in the United States has remained stable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which monitors such trends closely.

There is no specific treatment for measles, making vaccination a "life-saving tool for children", UNICEF stresses.

And the proportion of kids reaching age two without having received any kind of vaccination is also growing, albeit slowly: 0.9 percent of children born in 2011 to 1.3 percent among those born in 2015.

The report said poor health infrastructure, civil strife, low community awareness, complacency, and vaccine hesitancy have contributed to outbreaks in both developed and developing countries.

Since the beginning of this year, New Zealand has seen an increase in measles cases with 18 cases reported.

Ukraine, the Philippines and Brazil witnessed the biggest increases in cases of the disease, according to UNICEF, which analyzed global measles cases recorded by WHO.

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Measles cases have been reported in 10 states this year, with outbreaks of three or more cases in New York, Illinois, Texas and Washington state. The protestors argue, citing suspect science and anecdotal stories, that vaccines carry health risks to those who get them.

The remarks mirror recent comments by the World Health Organization who blamed the increase in measle cases on the "failure to vaccinate", which they also noted was being encouraged by misinformation.

"Almost all of these cases are preventable, and yet children are getting infected even in places where there is simply no excuse", Fore said.

Rob MacMillan, a paramedic specialist with the BC Ambulance Service, says calling for an ambulance runs the risk of exposing countless others to the highly-infectious disease.

"I do believe that parents' concerns about vaccines leads to undervaccination, and most of the cases that we're seeing are in unvaccinated communities", Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during the hearing.

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Lock said the message needs to be spread across the country because "we're not doing as good a job as the anti-vax people". Vancouver Coastal Health said it has distributed 7,000 more MMR vaccines than it normally would at this time of the year.

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