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Measles now an imminent global threat due to pandemic, say WHO and CDC

India November 24(IM): There is now an imminent threat of measles spreading in various regions globally, as COVID 19 led to a steady decline in vaccination coverage and weakened surveillance of the disease, the World Health Organization WHO and the U.S. public health agency said on Wednesday.

Measles is one of the most contagious human viruses and is almost entirely preventable through vaccination. However, it requires 95 percent vaccine coverage to prevent outbreaks among populations.

A record high of nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose in 2021 due to hurdles created by the COVID pandemic, the WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC said in a joint report.

While measles cases have not yet gone up dramatically compared to previous years, now is the time to act, the WHOs measles lead, Patrick OConnor, told Reuters.

We are at a crossroads, he said on Tuesday. It is going to be a very challenging 12 to 24 months trying to mitigate this.

A combination of factors like lingering social distancing measures and cyclical nature of measles may explain why there has not yet been an explosion of cases despite the widening immunity gaps, but that could change quickly, said OConnor, pointing out the highly contagious nature of the disease.

The WHO has already seen an increase of large disruptive outbreaks since the start of 2022, rising from 19 to almost 30 by September, OConnor said, adding that he was particularly worried about parts of sub Saharan Africa.

source : Indianexpress

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