WHO and CDC declare measles an imminent global threat

A combined report from two major public health authorities has declared measles a “significant threat” to the global community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) published concerns on Thursday that record declines in measles vaccination rates and ongoing large outbreaks mean the respiratory virus is an “imminent threat in every region of the world”.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was “absolutely critical” that immunization programs were bought back on track to prevent what he said was a “preventable disease”.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says vaccination is the most important factor in minimizing the threat of measles.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says vaccination is the most important factor in minimizing the threat of measles.
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“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against Covid-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine vaccination programs were severely disrupted and millions of children lost life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases such as measles. ” said Dr. Ghebreyesus.

According to the WHO, India, Somalia and Yemen are the three countries with the highest incidence of measles.

While measles is considered one of the most contagious viruses, the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine given in childhood is considered the best defense to reduce future outbreaks.

In Australia, the shot is free for children aged 12 to 18 months. People under 20, refugees and humanitarians may also be eligible for a catch-up vaccine.

The CDC reports that nine out of 10 people who are not vaccinated against the disease will become infected upon exposure.

A child receives a vaccine after a measles outbreak in India on November 23, 2022.
A child receives a vaccine after a measles outbreak in India on November 23, 2022.
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The virus is transmitted through water droplets released when infected people sneeze and cough. Common symptoms include fever, cold symptoms, conjunctivitis, and a red and blotchy rash that first appears around the face and hairline before spreading over the body.

The characteristic rash usually appears three to four days after the initial symptoms develop.

Last week, visitors traveling through Melbourne Airport were asked to watch for symptoms until Saturday, December 3.

Three confirmed cases were recorded in a family traveling to Melbourne from Singapore, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in 2022 to five.

The passengers boarded Qantas flight EK5036 QF36/Emirates in Singapore on Monday and landed at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport at about 6.10am on Tuesday. They were reportedly at the airport until 8:40.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Deborah Friedman urged people who develop symptoms to seek medical attention, wear a mask and call ahead to ensure they can be isolated from others.

A bottle of measles/rubella vaccine.
A bottle of measles/rubella vaccine.
AFP via Getty Images

According to her, young children and adults with weakened immune systems are most at risk of serious illness.

“Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that spreads rapidly through close contact, especially among those who are not fully vaccinated,” Friedman said.

It comes as NSW reported its first case of measles in two years this September. A man in his 50s became infected after traveling to Asia and developed symptoms after returning to Sydney.

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