A measles epidemic has been declared in 14 of the 38 health districts in Guinea. 13 districts have been put on alert.

Guinea map Image/CIA
Guinea map

Since the beginning of the year, 1,527 cases of measles have been diagnosed, of which 1,517 were cured. Two patients have died and eight remain under treatment.

The number of suspected cases has increased rapidly, reaching 407 this week, compared to 234 last week. More than 3.7 million children need to be urgently vaccinated in the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2015, there were 134,200 measles deaths globally – about 367 deaths every day or 15 deaths every hour.

Fortunately, measles vaccination resulted in a 79% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2015 worldwide. In 2015, about 85% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.

During 2000-2015, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 20.3 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.

There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within 2–3 weeks. However, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia. Measles can be prevented by immunization.