In the most comprehensive estimate of measles trends over the last 17 years, health groups announced today that the number of reported cases of disease has increased in 2017, reflecting severe and long-term outbreaks in many countries as well as gaps in immunization coverage.
Epidemics have affected all regions of the world and researchers estimated that measles caused about 110,000 deaths in 2017.
In the United States this year, Kansas City, Missouri has reported two clusters of measles, and parts of New Jersey and New York are currently experiencing measles outbreaks related to people infected while traveling to the US. foreign.
Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) published their findings today in Weekly report on morbidity and mortality and the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record.
Soumya Swaminathan, MBBS, MD, Deputy Director General of Programs at WHO, said in a statement that the resurgence of measles was worrisome, particularly in countries that had reached or were on the verge of eliminate measles.
"Without urgent efforts to increase immunization coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-immunized or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities from this devastating disease, but totally avoidable, "she said.
Vaccines saved about 21 million
Using updated modeling data, the group estimates that since 2000, measles immunization has saved more than 21 million lives. However, since 2016, sickness claims have increased by more than 30%.
The regions that experienced the largest increases in 2017 include the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean region and Europe. The Western Pacific is the only WHO region in which measles cases have fallen.
In July, measles again became endemic in Venezuela, causing imported cases and epidemics in neighboring countries. The report also states that the resurgence of measles in Europe has probably restored endemic transmission in some countries in the region.
"These epidemics highlight the fragility of progress in meeting measles elimination goals at the global and regional levels," the group wrote.
According to the report, the global coverage of the first of two doses of measles has stabilized at 85%, which, according to the authors, is well below the 95% level required to prevent epidemics. The coverage by the second dose is much lower at 67%.
Complacency, increased misinformation about vaccines
Seth Berkley, MD, chief executive of Gavi, of the Vaccine Alliance, said in the WHO statement that the increase was deeply worrying but not surprising. He added that complacency, the spread of lies about the vaccine in Europe, Venezuela's declining healthcare system and pockets of fragility and low immunization coverage in Africa have combined to trigger a global resurgence after years of progress. .
"Existing strategies need to change: we need to redouble our efforts to increase routine immunization coverage and strengthen health systems, otherwise we will continue to look for an epidemic after the other," he said. .
In their report, the authors call for investments in immunization systems combined with efforts to strengthen routine immunization, targeting in particular the poorest and most marginalized communities, including those facing conflict and displacement. trips.
They also said that actions to reduce measles levels should take into account misinformation and hesitation about vaccines.
November 29 MMWR report
WHO statement of 29 November