Doctors urge parents to vaccinate children in wake of major measles outbreak

Pearl Mccarthy
March 2, 2019

The Health Department found the initial case in the outbreak came from a child who caught measles while visiting Israel.

Measles cases in Ireland increased by 244% between 2017 to 2018, according to UNICEF.

And as more children go unvaccinated, measles has an opportunity to make a comeback, Grosso said.

In a report on one such outbreak occurring early in 2018, "the six unvaccinated patients with measles all had parents who had chosen not to vaccinate them during childhood", noted researchers led by Dr. George Han, of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in San Jose, Calif.

Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, said: "This is a wake-up call".

The new outbreak of the disease that is more contagious than influenza or tuberculosis in some countries is somewhat due to the unjustified claims that the measles vaccine is associated with autism. Encephalitis-a risky condition that involves swelling around the brain-happens in about 1 in every 1,000 measles cases. "Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow", Fore said.

Ten countries, including Brazil, the Philippines and France, accounted for almost three-quarters of the total increase in measles cases in 2018, according to figures released by the UN's agency for children. The last reported fatal case was in 2015, and the last one before that was 12 years prior.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis says this is because "there are some folks who cite sort of religious reasons why they don't vaccinate".

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She added that parents should talk to their children's pediatricians if they have any concerns. "That's a remarkable upswing from the last two years: in 2017 there were just 120 cases, and the following year, 372".

It can be contracted by someone within two hours after an infected person has left a room. Full vaccination is 97 percent effective at preventing measles.

In some schools, mainly private ones, the rate of use of the so-called MMR vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella was only 20 to 30 percent.

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.

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

The focus on measles in the Pacific Northwest intensified Friday as public health officials in OR announced a new case of the highly contagious disease unrelated to an ongoing outbreak in Washington state that's sickened 68 people so far.

"Students are required to have a current tetanus shot, two MMR shots, and the polio series".

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