In an update on the measles epidemic in Katanga in the southeast of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the number of cases have nearly doubled in the past three months, according to data from the Ministry of Public Health.
In early September, we reported here some 20,000 measles cases in the outbreak. By the end of November the case count nears 40,000 since the beginning of 2015. In addition, the measles fatalities are closing in on 500 for the year.
According to the medical humanitarian organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), more than 77 percent of children affected were aged one to five years, and 88 percent of the children who died were from this age-group. The disease is particularly dangerous for children under the age of five, especially those with acute malnutrition.
Fortunately, experts in the field say it appears the epidemic is slowing; however, the risk of it spreading to other regions remains a concern.
Measles is endemic in DRC, with recurrent and cyclical epidemics and Katanga was the scene of another large outbreak.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2014, there were 114,900 measles deaths globally – about 314 deaths every day or 13 deaths every hour. The good news is measles vaccination resulted in a 79% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2014 worldwide.
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