Reported measles cases spiked in 2017, as multiple countries experienced severe and protracted outbreaks of the disease. This is according to a new report published today by leading health organizations.
Because of gaps in vaccination coverage, measles outbreaks occurred in all regions, while there were an estimated 110 000 deaths related to the disease.
Using updated disease modelling data, the report provides the most comprehensive estimates of measles trends over the last 17 years. It shows that since 2000, over 21 million lives have been saved through measles immunizations. However, reported cases increased by more than 30 percent worldwide from 2016.
The Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Europe experienced the greatest upsurges in cases in 2017, with the Western Pacific the only World Health Organization (WHO) region where measles incidence fell.
“The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving measles elimination,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO. “Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease.”
Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease. It can cause debilitating or fatal complications, including encephalitis (an infection that leads to swelling of the brain), severe diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent vision loss. Babies and young children with malnutrition and weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable to complications and death.
The disease is preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine. For several years, however, global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85 percent. This is far short of the 95 percent needed to prevent outbreaks, and leaves many people, in many communities, susceptible to the disease. Second dose coverage stands at 67 percent.
Measles in Europe: ‘We are seeing a dramatic increase in infections and extended outbreaks’
“The increase in measles cases is deeply concerning, but not surprising,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Complacency about the disease and the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine in Europe, a collapsing health system in Venezuela and pockets of fragility and low immunization coverage in Africa are combining to bring about a global resurgence of measles after years of progress. Existing strategies need to change: more effort needs to go into increasing routine immunization coverage and strengthening health systems. Otherwise we will continue chasing one outbreak after another.”
Responding to the recent outbreaks, health agencies are calling for sustained investment in immunization systems, alongside efforts to strengthen routine vaccination services. These efforts must focus especially on reaching the poorest, most marginalized communities, including people affected by conflict and displacement.
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2 thoughts on “Measles cases increased by more than 30 percent worldwide from 2016: WHO”
“Receiving less attention, however, is the issue of vaccine failure. While the current vaccine is acknowledged as a good vaccine, we and others have demonstrated that the immune response to measles vaccine varies substantially in actual field use. Multiple studies demonstrate that 2–10% of those immunized with two doses of measles vaccine fail to develop protective antibody levels, and that immunity can wane over time and result in infection (so-called secondary vaccine failure) when the individual is exposed to measles. For example, during the 1989–1991 U.S. measles outbreaks 20–40% of the individuals affected had been previously immunized with one to two doses of vaccine. In an October 2011 outbreak in Canada, over 50% of the 98 individuals had received two doses of measles vaccine. The Table shows that this phenomenon continues to play a role in measles outbreaks. Thus, measles outbreaks also occur even among highly vaccinated populations because of primary and secondary vaccine failure, which results in gradually larger pools of susceptible persons and outbreaks once measles is introduced. This leads to a paradoxical situation whereby measles in highly immunized societies occurs primarily among those previously immunized.”
Barbara , vous pourriez préciser et citer vos sources SVP ? En France seulement 10 % de personnes atteintes sont bien vaccinées (et encore c’est du déclaratif) mais en tous cas 100% des trois décès survenus récemment ne l’étaient pas. Votre raisonnement est bizarre car c’est toujours dans les populations les moins bien vaccinées que les flambées arrivent (Amish, communautés antivax, Sud Ouest de la France etc…); ça c’est un fait. Non une opinion.