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PAHO Concerned Over Global Measles Spike

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The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is concerned over a 79% increase in reported measles cases in 2023 compared to 2022.

PAHO said despite the existence of an effective vaccine against measles, disease cases, and deaths continue to occur worldwide.

According to the organisation, fifty-one countries have reported large disease outbreaks.

“Measles cases are increasing everywhere,” PAHO Regional Immunization Advisor Dr. Gloria Rey warned.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the downward trend in measles vaccination coverage, which has not yet recovered and remains stagnant,” Desiree Pastor, Regional Immunization Advisor at PAHO, said

In this regard, PAHO declared that the Americas was at risk of more cases and outbreaks due to the decline in vaccination coverage.

For years, coverage with the first dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine remained above 90% in the Americas.

However, in 2019, it dropped to 87%, reaching its lowest point in 2022 at 85%.

PAHO’s recommended ideal is at least 95% to prevent outbreaks.

In addition to fever and rash, measles often produces respiratory symptoms such as cough and runny nose.

The virus is also highly contagious, and an infected person can spread the disease to between 12 and 18 people at once.

Respiratory droplets transmit the virus when an infected person speaks, coughs, or sneezes.

The virus can remain active in the air for up to 2 hours and spread within a radius of 2 to 4 meters.

PAHO has urged countries to implement essential prevention and control measures.

The measures include swift and intensified vaccination in high-risk areas, enhanced epidemiological surveillance, and active case searches.

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