The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) called for rapidly increasing vaccination coverage to stop the spread of measles in Latin America and the Caribbean, since endemic transmission of the virus has been re-established in Venezuela.

South America/CIA
South America/CIA

As of August 20, more than 3,500 confirmed cases and 62 deaths had been recorded in Venezuela.

“It is vital that we continue to vaccinate to reach more than 95% of our children everywhere,” said Carissa Etienne, Director General of PAHO. “We must also strengthen national epidemiological surveillance and establish rapid response teams to prevent new cases and stop outbreaks,” he said.

Venezuela reported the first measles cases of the current outbreak in July 2017, a genotype originally reported in Asia and later in Europe. As of August 20, the country had reported 3,545 confirmed cases, including 62 deaths. Ten other countries in the region reported a total of 1,459 confirmed cases and six deaths.

A disease is considered endemic when it affects the same area or region permanently or for long periods of time.

In the vast majority of Latin American countries, there has been no endemic case for more than 18 years.

PAHO and its partners are working with the country to increase vaccination coverage, strengthen epidemiological surveillance and interrupt transmission.

Financial resources have also been mobilized to support the purchase of vaccines and other supplies, as well as cooperative activities to stop the spread.