Measles can be contagious, but vaccination is almost always possible. The Covid pandemic caused a drop in vaccine coverage.
The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that measles is at risk in many parts of the world.
Measles, one of the most contagious viruses in humans, can be prevented almost completely by vaccination. To prevent the spread among the population, 95% of vaccine coverage is required.
The WHO and CDC reported that a record number of children were unable to receive measles vaccines in 2021 because of the Covid pandemic.
Although measles cases are not up as much as in previous years, it is time to act now, Dr. Patrick O’Connor (WHO’s measles lead) told Reuters.
He said Tuesday that “we are at a crossroads.” It will be difficult to find a way to mitigate these challenges over the next 12-24 months.
Combinations of factors such as lingering social distancing and the cyclical nature measles may explain why there hasn’t been an explosion in cases despite widening immunity gaps. However, O’Connor stated that this could change quickly due to the highly contagious nature the disease.
According to the United Nations health agency, there has been an increase in large-scale disruptive outbreaks, increasing from 19 to nearly 30 by September. He also said that he was especially concerned about sub-Saharan Africa.
According to NBC News affiliate WCMH, a measles epidemic was reported in Columbus, Ohio last week. There were 24 cases. All those affected are unvaccinated children.
Although measles cases often start with a fever and then spread to the neck and face after a few days, the rash is usually the most common sign of the disease. According to WHO, the virus can remain in the air for up to two hours and can spread to surfaces up to four days after it appears. There is no antiviral that can treat measles.