Measles epidemic: the vaccine is backing away, the disease is swarming

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The measles had completely disappeared from the radar screens of medical prevention of Costa Rica. But it was enough for a five-year-old French boy, on holiday with his parents in this Central American country, to be identified by the health authorities of the province of Puntarenas as the bearer of this ultra-contagious virus to relaunch the debate on the interest of vaccination. The subject is all the more relevant at the beginning of March, when UNICEF reported the resurgence "Worrying" of this disease in the world and has indicated France as one of the ten countries responsible for three quarters of the increase in measles cases between 2017 and 2018. The case of this young French tourist in Costa Rica highlights the collective impact risks of non-vaccination worldwide. The director of Unicef, Henrietta Fore, remembers that it exists "A safe, effective and convenient vaccine to prevent a highly contagious disease".

While on vacation on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the 5-year-old and his parents – who are also infected but without symptoms – were quarantined in the hospital in Puntarenas two days after the arrival as soon as the first symptoms appeared. . Isolated in a negative pressure room, they were unable to leave the hospital – even 100 meters from the beach – until eight days later. They remained under medical supervision in their villa before they could return to France.

Contacted by liberation, The dott. Steven Villarreal, responsible for epidemiological surveillance at the hospital, explains: "The French family was isolated because in 2005 there was no indigenous case in Costa Rica.The occurrence of a case of measles has activated warning protocols to avoid a crisis with more cases to the national team". He proudly told how the state health services worked for two weeks to find and vaccinate the people with whom the vacationers had been in contact.

France bad student

Positive, the doctor also describes a "rewarding experience from every point of viewWhich allowed them to experiment with their protocols and get parents who had not done so to immunize their children. Ironically, while the young Frenchman was not vaccinated, Costa Rica was in the middle of the measles vaccination campaigns – mandatory for all children in the country – in order to maintain optimal coverage (estimated at 95% by WHO) against viral infection.

France is a bad student. Although the two doses that need to be injected for the vaccine to be effective have been recommended for a long time and mandatory for children born since January 2018, only 79% of children received them in 2017. The hexagon is accused by UNICEF is the tenth country most affected by the increase in measles cases in 2018, with an increase of 2,269 cases to 2,913.

To read also: Pertussis, rubella, mumps … eleven diseases blocked

Françoise Salvadori – Professor in immunology and co-author of Antivax (published Vendémiaire), a book that traces the history of resistance to vaccines – tells Libération that "measles had decreased in Europe after massive vaccinations in the years 1990-2000 […]. Since then it has re-emerged in many countries, in waves, partly due to a growing lack of trust in the population.

A "scientific fraud" that hurts vaccination

Since 1998 this vaccine has a bad press. In question? A study that establishes a link with autism. Since then it has been refuted as a "scientific fraud ". Above all because measles remains perceived as a mild childhood disease that it "must do. According to Françoise Salvadori, this "oI know some are more fragile than others, or will have less luck"It includes the decision of the French government to opt for the obligation, even if it deplores this solution.

The WHO has classified the "vaccine hesitation" as one of 10 global health threats for 2019. The number of reported cases has increased from 170,000 in 2017 to 307,000 in 2018.

To explain this increase, Françoise Salvadori recalls that measles always spread in waves, exploiting the places where the vaccination coverage is lower. This is the case in Brazil, where the Venezuelan exodus has raised numbers, from 0 to over 10,000 in a year!

Ukraine has the highest increase in measles cases in the Unicef ​​ranking, with 30,000 more cases in 2018 compared to less than 5,000 in 2017. Shortages and failures in health infrastructure, as well as a climate of distrust against vaccines is involved. With the help of communication campaigns, health authorities recall that measles caused 110,000 deaths worldwide in 2017. Always with the same recommendation: reach a 95% vaccination coverage.

Nathan Mann

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