Madagascar is currently facing the largest measles epidemic in its history, with the number of cases exceeding 115,000, according to AP.
Only 58% of the inhabitants of the main island have been vaccinated against the disease, which largely explains its recent spread. The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the epidemic has affected mostly children under 15 since its appearance in September. According to AP, more than 1,200 people have died in the last seven months.
"Unfortunately, the epidemic continues to gain momentum, but at a slower pace than a month ago," told AFP doctor Dossou Vincent Sodjinou, an epidemiologist. of WHO in Madagascar.
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Measles is a contagious virus that spreads in the air by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include a high fever, a rash, a stuffy nose, red eyes and the Mayo Clinic says that it usually takes 10 to 14 days after exposure to see them.
Some waiting rooms were filled, volunteer nurses trying to meet the demand of sick patients. According to AP, 50% of Malagasy children are malnourished for economic reasons, one of the main causes of the epidemic. Many parents do not know that vaccines are free because the region lacks health information.
"Malnutrition is the bed of measles," Sodjinou exclaimed to AP.
Measles is one of the leading causes of death in children and according to the WHO, about 450 people die every day in the world because of the disease. Immunize.org states that measles complications are more common in children under five years of age.
Due to the misinformation of anti-vaxxers, the number of measles cases is increasing in the United States. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency last week, requiring unvaccinated people living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to receive the measles vaccine. He added that the city would impose violations and possibly a $ 1,000 fine on those who did not comply.
It was thought that the disease had been eliminated in the United States in 2000, but 19 states reported measles cases this year alone. These states include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
In 2016, the total number of measles cases in the United States was 86 according to the CDC. In just four months this year, the number of cases has risen to 465. This is the second highest number of cases reported in the United States since the elimination of measles in 2000. The first case occurred in 2014 because of a single outbreak in which 338 people were infected. This has never been so prevalent.
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According to the CDC, 25% of people with measles will be hospitalized and two out of a thousand will die of the disease.
The CDC reports that two doses of vaccine are 97% effective against the disease.
The WHO launched a vaccination campaign in Madagascar last month with the goal of reaching 7.2 million children from 6 months to 9 years old. Madagascar's Ministry of Health has sent free medicines to areas most affected by the disease.