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Urgent Alert: Surge in Measles Cases Sparks Health Advisory from US Officials

Representation for MMR Vaccine | Credits: Getty Images

United States: Warnings have been issued by the US health officials following the dramatic rise in the cases linked to measles. Following the upsurge, the authorities have appealed to receive latest vaccination dose as this is the best way to attain protection against the contagious infection.

According to the health authorities, vaccination is a must for people who have been traveling, especially internationally. Vaccines must be given to a young baby aged six months. On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health alert for doctors in the US to increase awareness of the infection among people who frequently travel abroad. The federal health agency has asked the public to get vaccines a few months ahead of the scheduled trip.

The concerns have been raised amidst the approaching bustling seasons of spring and summer travel, and a cautionary note arises. Numerous nations, encompassing Austria, the Philippines, Romania, and the United Kingdom—a draw for American sightseers—are grappling with outbreaks of measles, as highlighted by the CDC.

Highlighting further, the CDC sheds light on the lagging immunization rates prevalent in 36 US states. These states witness fewer than 95 percent of kindergarteners being vaccinated against measles, thereby falling short of the crucial herd immunity threshold. Herd immunity, denoting the proportion of the populace necessitating immunization to stymie the spread of an infection within the community, comes under scrutiny.

Visual Representation for rashes caused due Measles infection

Despite this, Dr Nirav Shah, the CDC’s principal deputy director, asserts the robustness of measles vaccination rates in the US. He contrasts the situation with COVID-19, where susceptibility pervades. Dr Shah elaborates that for vaccinated individuals, the probability of contracting measles has fortunately waned from historical levels due to the high vaccination rates. Nonetheless, he expresses concerns over the slight dip in vaccination rates, declining from 95 percent to 93 percent.

Though a mere two percentage points may seem inconsequential, Dr Shah underscored its implications across the populace. This reduction signified approximately 250,000 vulnerable kindergarteners.

The efficacy of measles vaccines remains a cornerstone, deemed one of the most protective measures. With two doses, efficacy stands at around 97 percent in thwarting infections, while a single dose yields about 93 percent efficacy.

President of the American Medical Association – Dr Jesse Ehrenfeld, underscored the prevailing scientific consensus on vaccines’ efficacy and safety. Emphasizing the crucial role vaccines play in averting individual ailments and safeguarding public health, Dr Ehrenfeld issues a resounding affirmation.

In its updated travel advisories, the CDC recommends international travelers uncertain of their vaccination status to consult a physician at least six weeks prior to embarking on their journey. This extended timeframe ensures adequate immunization. Former guidelines advocated for a consultation at least a month before departure.

Traditionally, infants receive their initial measles, mumps, and rubella inoculation at the age of one. However, the CDC now advocates for an expedited vaccination timeline, advancing it by a few months to shield vulnerable infants lacking immunity against this highly transmissible infection.

Visual Representation

Furthermore, the CDC advises unvaccinated children aged one and above to receive two doses of the measles-containing vaccine, administered at least 28 days apart, before undertaking any travel.

Measles virus lingers in the air for up to two hours post-exposure, and transmission can occur through surface contact. The contagion can be spread up to four days before and after the onset of the characteristic rash.

Approximately 90 percent of individuals lacking immunity will contract the virus upon exposure. Those experiencing symptoms such as rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and ocular irritation are urged to seek medical assistance promptly, albeit with prior intimation to healthcare facilities to pre-empt potential measles transmission.

The CDC flags 46 countries reporting significant measles incidences, including regions across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

While the US has eradicated measles as an endemic disease, imported cases persist, primarily involving unvaccinated US residents returning from international travels.

2024 portends a challenging year for the US, having already witnessed 58 measles cases across 17 jurisdictions, mirroring the tally for the entirety of 2023, with some cases being locally transmitted.

Recent outbreaks have been documented in various US locales, including Chicago, California, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

The CDC cautions all international travellers regarding susceptibility to measles unless fully vaccinated at least two weeks before departure or possessing prior immunity.

Measles is a virus when it causes severe illness in all age groups, including pneumonia and death.

Some individuals who are found to be more prone to acute outcomes include children under the age of five, adults more than 20 years old, pregnant women, and people having diabetes and other related chronic illnesses.

The diminution of childhood vaccinations around the world due to the rise of COVID-19 possibilities has made the issue of measles outbreaks worse. According to the CDC, the vaccine shortages have gone up up to 61 million missed doses as evidence of the pressing need to improve the vaccination measures.

As a consequence the reported cases of measles have increased around the globe especially in the European region thought the number of measles cases in 2022 where less than one thousand but more than three times that number had been reported in 2021.

According to the latest elaborations of the WHO, measles cases around the planet grew by 18 percent, making them approximately 9 million, and the deaths from measles were counted to be around 43 percent, and they amounted to approximately 136,000 people.

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